Environmentally hazardous

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Environmentally hazardous is a chemical hazard, where significant damage to the environment is caused by a chemical substance. It is defined in the Globally Harmonized System and in the European Union chemical regulations. The label is particularly applicable towards substances with aquatic toxicity. An example is zinc oxide, a common paint pigment, which is extremely toxic to aquatic life.

Toxicity or other hazards do not imply an environmental hazard, because elimination by sunlight (photolysis), water (hydrolysis) or organisms (biological elimination) neutralizes many reactive or poisonous substances. Persistence towards these elimination mechanisms combined with toxicity gives the substance the ability to do damage in the long term. Also, the lack of immediate human toxicity does not mean the substance is environmentally nonhazardous. For example, tanker truck-sized spills of substances such as milk can cause a lot of damage in the local aquatic ecosystems: the added biological oxygen demand causes rapid eutrophication, leading to anoxic conditions in the water body.