Environmental health risks can be found all over the world. Whether one resides in an urban or rural environment, it is difficult to avoid pollutants that can produce unfavorable effects on  human health. For example, it’s estimated that car emissions contribute to a staggering number of deaths in the United States alone, and many areas are deemed to have unsafe air that can contribute to long-term diseases such as lung cancer. So says the group Top Environmental Issues, which publishes information on an array of environmental topics and statistics. Other pollutants lurk in the soil or drinking water sources. 
The process of addressing environmental hazards starts with individuals, who can educate themselves about various pollutants and how to reduce their impact on human health. 
• Lead: Even though lead use has decreased, there remains some residual risk. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration says that lead enters the body primarily through inhalation and ingestion. Many people are exposed to lead by breathing in lead-containing dust at work or from hobbies that involve lead. Lead affects nearly every system in the body, but it can be particularly harmful to the brain and nervous system.
• Mercury: Mercury is another metal that has drastic health effects. People may be exposed to mercury through their occupations or even their diets. Mercury occurs naturally in Earth’s crust but is primarily released from coal-fired power stations and other industrial processes. According to the World Health Organization, mercury’s potentially toxic effects include digestive and immune system interruption, nervous system impairment and skin and eye problems.
• Contaminated drinking water: All tap water contains trace amounts of natural microorganisms. However, contaminants can end up in drinking water from run-off from residential and commercial areas. The Clean Air Council says drinking water may contain contaminants such as arsenic, radon, trihalomethanes (chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform), and pesticides.
• Pesticides: Chemicals used to prevent the proliferation of lawn and garden pests may be effective, but they also can produce adverse health effects. Pesticides have been associated with increased risk of cancer and can affect the developing nervous system. The Pesticide Action Network says close to a billion pounds of toxic chemicals are intentionally introduced into the environment and the food supply each year. 
Many contaminants can potentially be found in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land upon which our homes are built. Learning about some of the more common environmental hazards can help people take action to avoid them.