Chemicals are a natural and important part of our environment. They can be found in our kitchens, medicine cabinets, basements and garages. Chemicals help us keep our food fresh and our bodies clean. They help our plants grow and fuel our cars.
Hazardous materials are chemical substances which, if released or misused, can pose a threat to the environment. These chemicals are used in industry, agriculture, medicine, research and consumer goods. As many as 500,000 products pose physical or health hazards and can be defined as "hazardous chemicals." They 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 manufacturing plants.