Toxic List – S

Sodium carbonate

Sodium carbonate, also known as washing soda or soda ash, is a salt used in cleaning products. It is very irritating to the eyes.

Sodium lauryl sulfate

Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate is an inexpensive detergent found in shampoos, shower gels, and other cosmetic cleansers. It is potentially harmful to the skin and hair because it strips protective lipids from the surface of the skin, preventing it from regulating moisture effectively. Sodium lauryl sulfate is also thought to contain carcinogens, which can be absorbed through the skin.

Stearalkonium chloride

Stearalkonium chloride is a surfactant and antimicrobial substance that is used as an ingredient in skin and hair products. In high concentrations, stearalkonium chloride is a skin and eye irritant.

Stoddard solvent

Stoddard solvents are petroleum distillates that irritate the eyes and mucous membranes. Stoddard solvents are found in products like auto wax, floor wax, household cleaners, and abrasives. Side effects of Stoddard solvent exposure include headache, mental illness, and loss of concentration.


Styrene is an organic compound used to make plastic. It can be found in hundreds of products, including synthetic rubber, Styrofoam, asphalt, food wrap, and utensils. Styrene products may emit styrene vapor, which can leach into food that is stored in styrene containers. Styrene produces a large volume of waste because it is not readily biodegradable. It is also a suspected carcinogen and toxic to the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and kidney systems.


Styrofoam is a polystyrene foam product. It is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company. It is used as cushioning material in packaging, building material, and to make disposable coffee cups, bowls, plates, etc. Styrofoam is hazardous both to humans and the environment. Toxic chemicals leach out of Styrofoam cups and plates, threatening human health. In addition, Styrofoam is often dumped as litter, subsequently breaking up into small pieces and choking animals. Furthermore, styrene, the building block of Styrofoam, is a suspected carcinogen.

Sulfur dioxide

Sulfur dioxide is produced by various industrial processes as well as by volcanoes. It is used in winemaking, as a refrigerant, as a preservative, and as a reagent and solvent in laboratories. Sulfur dioxide emissions are a precursor to atmospheric particulates and acid rain. Inhaling sulfur dioxide is associated with increased respiratory illness and death. Currently, China is the world’s largest sulfur dioxide polluter.


Surfactants are substances that lower the surface tension of a liquid, such as foaming agents, dispersants, detergents, wetting agents, and emulsifiers. They are used in a variety of household and industrial applications. Some surfactants are known to cause harm to humans, animals, and ecosystems. For example, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) is a type of surfactant that causes cumulative toxic effects in mammalian species.