Chemicals are found everywhere. They purify drinking water, increase crop production and simplify household chores. You and your community are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work or play. Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal.
Hazardous materials in various forms can cause death, serious injury, long-lasting health effects and damage to buildings, homes and other property. Many products containing hazardous chemicals are used and stored in homes routinely. These products are also shipped daily on the nation's highways, railroads, waterways and pipelines.
Chemical manufacturers are one source of hazardous materials, but there are many others, including service stations, hospitals and hazardous materials waste sites.
Varying quantities of hazardous materials are manufactured, used, or stored at an estimated 4.5 million facilities in the United States — from major industrial plants to local dry cleaning establishments or gardening supply stores.
Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons and radioactive materials. These substances are most often released as a result of transportation accidents or because of chemical accidents in plants.
How can I protect myself from a hazardous materials incident?
More Hazardous Materials Information
General Pollution Safety Information