Toxic List – C

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels do not burn properly due to inadequate ventilation or the malfunctioning of fuel-burning appliances. Hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year. The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. In advanced stages of carbon monoxide poisoning, people may experience symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, loss of consciousness, and death. Typically, carbon monoxide poisoning in the home stems from appliances like heaters, ranges, and clothes dryers. Appliances that burn wood, coal, or kerosene also emit carbon monoxide.


Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal that is found in areas where ore is smelted and processed. Cadmium is used in welding, the manufacturing of industrial paints, and electroplating. Overexposure to the chemical can lead to death. Cadmium emits a dangerous brown fume when it is being heated, but since the fume is not irritating, people often don’t even realize they are being exposed.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

CFCs, which were developed in the 1930s, are colorless, volatile, and relatively non-toxic gases and liquids that are used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and household applications. They are often used as propellants, refrigerants, and solvents, but their use is being phased out because they contribute to ozone depletion. When loose chlorine from CFCs migrates to the upper atmosphere, they destroy ozone molecules in the earth’s protective layer and contribute to global warming. Overexposure to CFCs can also lead to central nervous system depression, dizziness, and loss of concentration.

Chlorinated hydrocarbons

Chlorinated hydrocarbons are organic molecules with at least one chlorine atom bonded to a carbon atom. Chlorinated hydrocarbons are used in a variety of applications, from making industrial solvents to manufacturing cookware. When released into the environment, chlorinated hydrocarbons can cause sickness, birth defects, and other problems. Products made with chlorinated hydrocarbons should not be poured down the drain or out into the street; they should be given to a company that handles hazardous waste disposal.


Chlorine is a poisonous, greenish-yellow gas that is corrosive and hazardous. It is commonly used to disinfect water, make other chemicals, bleach wood pulp, and purify metal. Household bleach is a 5% solution made of a stabilized form of chlorine that is used to whiten fabrics and remove mold. Short-term, high-level exposure to chlorine leads to chest pain, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and coughing. Long-term, low-level exposure to chlorine leads to tooth corrosion and lung disease. Ingesting chlorine can cause stomach irritation, esophageal injury, and nausea/vomiting. Mixing chlorine with acidic substances, like toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners, or vinegar, can lead to the formation of a deadly gas.