This new webpage for the national Toxic Substances Team is currently under construction!


The mission of the Sierra Club Toxics Team is to advocate effectively for preventing, mitigating, and/or remedying adverse health and environmental effects and environmental injustices related to exposures to a wide range of hazardous chemical substances, both synthetic and natural (as laid out in the Sierra Club Toxic Chemicals Policy and Environmentally Hazardous Substances). 

What are toxic substances?

Toxic substances are chemicals with the potential to cause harm to living things.  Toxic substances may negatively impact human health, or may damage the environment through their effects on other living organisms.  Toxic substances can be either naturally occurring or synthetic (created in a lab), and include such substances as:

  • Heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, and others)
  • Pesticides (organochlorines, organophosphates, and many others)
  • PFAS (a large group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds sometimes known as "forever chemicals" for their persistence)
  • Cyanobacterial toxins (toxic substances manufactured by some types of algae)
  • Air toxics (benzene, methylene chloride and other airborne solvents)

This is by no means a comprehensive list, as the EPA Toxics Release Inventory program alone lists 787 different chemicals in 33 different categories.