Environmental hazard' is the state of events which has the potential to threaten the
surrounding natural environment and adversely affect people's health. This term incorporates
topics like pollution and natural disasters such as storms and earthquakes. Hazards can be
categorized in five types:
What are chemical hazards and toxic substances?
Chemical hazards and toxic substances pose a wide range of health hazards (such as
irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (such as flammability,
corrosion, and reactivity).
This page provides basic information about chemical hazards and toxic substances in the
workplace. While not all hazards associated with every chemical and toxic substance are
addressed here, we do provide relevant links to other pages with additional information about
hazards and methods to control exposure in the workplace.
A natural disaster is a major adverse event resulting from natural processes of the Earth;
examples include floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other geologic
processes. A natural disaster can cause loss of life or property damage, and typically leaves
some economic damage in its wake, the severity of which depends on the affected
population's resilience, or ability to recover.
An adverse event will not rise to the level of a disaster if it occurs in an area without
vulnerable population. In a vulnerable area, however, such as San Francisco, an
earthquake can have disastrous consequences and leave lasting damage, requiring years to
In 2012, there were 905 natural catastrophes worldwide, 93% of which were weather-related
disasters. Overall costs were US$170 billion and insured losses $70 billion. 2012 was a
moderate year. 45% were meteorological (storms), 36% were hydrological (floods), 12%
were climatologically (heat waves, cold waves, droughts, wildfires) and 7% were geophysical
events (earthquakes and volcanic eruptions). Between 1980 and 2011 geophysical events
accounted for 14% of all natural
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