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What are chemicals?
Chemicals are the things that all living things on earth are made up of. Some chemicals that you might have heard of are hydrogen and carbon.
Are chemicals harmful?
Some chemicals are, yes. In fact, humans have introduced many harmful chemicals into our environment.
How have humans done this?
Waste from places (eg factories, farms, gardens) where pesticides and medicines are created or used.
Using chemicals like organochlorines for electrical and cooling tools.
Burning materials such as plastics.
Using vehicles, paints, laser photocopiers and printers.
Burning gas, oil and coal.
What happens because of all this?
Chemicals to enter our water, which means harmful algae are made. This makes it hard for other plants and animals in the water to live.
Using chemicals for electrical and cooling tools causes:
Leaking of oil from organochlorines, which harms fishermen, breast-fed babies and people working with old electrical tools.
Burning plastics causes:
Chemicals called dioxins to travel to farms in the air. These are eaten by chickens, fish, pigs and cows, which are then eaten by us in the form of meat and milk.
This can make our minds and bodies work differently. We might become very tired, find it hard to concentrate, and become sick all the time. Some babies can even be born abnormally.
Using vehicles such as cars and burning materials such as gas causes:
Breathing problems and sight problems.
Changes in the way we think. We can become dizzy and confused.
Toxic materials like cadmium to enter the water we drink, the air we breathe and seafood we eat.
This harms our lungs, makes us vomit and gives us an upset stomach.
What can you do to help?
Ask your parents to:
Use biodegradable products.
Get rid of chemical waste carefully, and don’t put it down the sink.
Avoid burning plastic.
Avoid buying products that have the word ‘chloro?in the ingredients list. These products can include wood preservatives, herbicides, insecticides, chlorine bleach or cling film plastic wraps.
Wash fruit and vegetables well before eating them.
By taking care of our environment, we can prevent harmful chemicals entering it and so in turn, we will not be harmed.