The large-scale production of chemicals has grown steadily since the middle of the 19th century. Now virtually every man-made product involves the use of chemicals in some manner and new chemicals are being developed every year.
Technically, a chemical substance is a form of matter that has constant chemical composition that results in physical properties that can be measured to characterize it. Chemical substance can also more broadly connote a substance produced by, used for, or related to chemical operations or production. The toxicity of a chemical substance refers to its ability to damage an organ system, disrupt a biochemical process, or disturb an enzyme system. As we scale up production of chemicals, especially those that are toxic, the risk of exposure also grows.

Adverse impacts on human health:
Toxic chemicals threaten our water:
Toxic chemicals pollute our air:
While some chemicals cause direct adverse affects on wildlife or humans, others cause changes in the environment that present additional hazards—volatile organic chemicals and oxides of nitrogen give rise to tropospheric ozone (smog), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) degrade the stratospheric ozone layer allowing increased ultraviolet radiation to impact on the earth’s surface.
Some types of chemicals that have been shown to pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. They include:

Exposure to chemicals that are persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic can occur over extended time periods, affecting generations of humans and wildlife.

Specific contaminants of concern include:
Current Laws and Regulations Regarding Toxics
Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act:
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):
Illinois Environmental Protection Act:
Illinois Lawn Care Products Application and Notice Act:
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW):
Mercury Thermostat Collection and Recycling Act:
Toxin-Free Toddler Act:
  • Uniform Hazardous Substances Act of Illinois: Regulates the handling and disclosure of toxic chemicals.
  • Illinois Chemical Safety Act: Establishes a system of organized responses at the state and local level to releases of chemical substances into the environment.
  • Cadmium-Safe Kids Act: Restricts the amount of cadmium in the paint or surface coating of children’s jewelry.
Our Vision for the Reduction of Toxic Chemicals in Illinois
Notice and transparency requirements for pesticides should be increased:
Illinois should put together a plan to protect pollinators and other important wildlife species from pesticides and other chemicals:
Illinois should ensure Environmental Justice in decision making about siting and use of toxics:
Illinois should support federal and any possible state actions to immediately act on the worst Chemicals First and Promote Safer Alternatives:

Partners for Parks and Wildlife

Partners for Parks and Wildlife (PPW) is a grassroots coalition that is dedicated to secure and increase funding for open space and park acquisition, natural area preservation, wildlife habitat protection and recreational opportunities in Illinois.

Learn More About Climate Change

The U.S. EPA’s website on climate change was once a great resource for basic scientific information on the topic and we look forward to the day that it is again. Until then, the City of Chicago is making sure its citizens have access to research and information.


One of the simplest ways to donate to the IEC is by contributing through EarthShare in your workplace charity campaign .