A substance is toxic if it is capable of causing you injury or death. Toxic substances can be inhaled, swallowed or absorbed via skin contact.
Just about any chemical can be toxic under the right circumstances. Some things can be helpful at one level and toxic at another, i.e. drugs and certain vitamins. And sometimes, chemicals can become more toxic if they’re combined with another.
There are hundreds of man or nature made substances and gases that are considered toxic, here’s just a very small sampling to give you an idea:
- carbon monoxide
Toxic chemicals can affect any system in the body, including:
- circulatory ~ heart, blood
- reproductive ~ sperm, egg
- nervous ~ brain, nerve cells
- respiratory ~ nose, throat, lungs
- digestive ~ mouth, throat, stomach, intestines, bowel, liver, kidney
In some cases, chemicals only affect certain systems or organs. Or they may cause toxic damage on contact, i.e. chemical burns.
Toxicity is the degree to which a substance is toxic, or can harm you. Toxicity is classified as either acute or chronic.
Acute toxicity involves toxic effects by a single or short term exposure, i.e. acid. Chronic toxicity is the ability of a substance to cause low level poisonous effects over an extended period, usually upon repeated or continuous exposure, i.e. air pollution.
Symptoms caused by toxicity will vary based on the toxic substance, but they may involve some of the following:
- chest pain
- appetite loss
- double vision
- abdominal pain
- skin rash, burns
- muscle twitching
- breathing difficulty
- nausea & vomiting
- numbness, tingling
- abnormal breath odor
If you believe you’ve made contact with a toxic substance and might experience acute toxicity symptoms call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, as well as seek health care attention right away.
For vitamin supplement consideration, be cognizant that vitamins containing iron are the most toxic. And fat soluble vitamin A, D, E and K have a greater potential for chronic toxicity because they accumulate in your body.