Skip Navigation

Tox Town - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play
What's New Archive

Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita: Tox Town Offers Background Info on Disaster Health Concerns

Do you wonder what health risks might be looming in neighborhoods affected by major hurricanes? Following the Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita disasters and flooding, there has been much concern about the potential impact on people’s health. A new page in Tox Town lists environmental health topics on possible ways the post-disaster environment and clean-up efforts can affect people’s health. Tox Town also has background information on toxic chemicals featured in news stories because they may be in floodwaters. This information is suggested for students above elementary-school level, educators, and the concerned public.

In-depth information from the National Library of Medicine is on the Hurricanes: Links to Health Information Including Toxicology and Environmental Health page at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing key health information for individuals, first responders, disaster workers, and health professionals on behalf of all federal agencies. Consult the CDC Hurricanes home page for up-to-the-minute disease, injury, prevention, and treatment information specifically related to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

September 26, 2005

New from MedlinePlus: Bird Flu

Health officials worry that bird flu (also called avian influenza or avian flu) could spread from birds to humans and then from human to human, causing a deadly flu epidemic around the world. Human cases in Viet Nam, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia have recently been in the news. Go to the Farm neighborhood and click on Feeding Operation to learn about possible human diseases that may come from living near or working with farm animals.

August 30, 2005

New US-Mexico Border neighborhood added to Tox Town

Go to the US-Mexico Border neighborhood for an introduction to environmental health risks in that region. You can explore a border community to learn about air pollution, drinking water quality, workplace hazards, pesticides, rats and snakes, lead poisoning, backyard trash burning, and many other environmental concerns that may affect ones health. New locations to explore in the border scene are an auto shop, tienda (corner store), maquiladora (factory), crop fields, stormwater and sewage systems, illegal dumps and tire piles, and a colonia. Colonias are border communities that lack paved roads, running water, and waste disposal, and are home to over 400,000 people in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

The US-Mexico border region shares many of the same environmental health concerns that can be found anywhere in the US , but also has unique concerns and issues because of its geography, economic development, and lack of municipal services in some locations. The United States, Mexico, state, local, and tribal governments are working together to promote better environmental health in the region through programs such as the US-Mexico Border Environmental Program: Border 2020,

Tox Town also has a growing number of resources en español. See the page on Escenas & Sitios for Spanish-language resources about la Frontera.

Images from the US-Mexico Border have been added to the Clip Art & Publicity Materials page. These images may be used for newsletters, web sites, and other materials about Tox Town.

July 13, 2005

New A-Z Index added

Click on the new button on the home page for a list of all the environmental health concerns, toxic chemicals, and database resources that are included in Tox Town. There is also a link to the Index at the bottom of each neighborhood scene.

July 13, 2005

Tox Town is now accredited

Tox Town is now accredited by the Health On the Net Foundation and subscribes to the HONcode principles.

July 13, 2005

New from MedlinePlus: Hazardous Waste.

Batteries, needles and other used medical supplies, pesticides, household cleaners and many other products can be hazardous to human health if not discarded properly. Go to the Border neighborhood and click on Illegal Dumps & Tire Piles to learn more about what waste items can be hazardous and how to safely dispose of them.

May 17, 2005

New from MedlinePlus:

Hiedra, roble y zumaque venenosos, Spanish-language version of Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac.

May 10, 2005

New from MedlinePlus: Inhalants [also Inhalantes in Spanish].

Many common household products (including glue, paint, and solvents) can be sniffed or ‘huffed’ for an intoxicating effect. Abuse of these highly toxic substances to get ‘high’ can start as early as middle school age and younger. The health effects can be devastating, including sudden death from suffocation. Go to the Town or City and click on Homes to learn more about household products that can be abused as inhalants.

April 25, 2005

New from MedlinePlus: Mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer of the mesothelium, the membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases of mesothelioma. Go to the Town or City and click on Asbestos to learn more about the effects of asbestos on human health.

March 4, 2005

New from MedlinePlus:

Enfermedades de los animales y su salud, the Spanish-language version of Animal Diseases and Your Health.

March 4, 2005

New from MedlinePlus: Animal Diseases and Your Health.

Provides links to information on diseases that can spread from animals to people. Go to the Town and click on Pets, Pests, or the Farm to learn more about human health and animals.

January 4, 2005

New from MedlinePlus:

Medicamentos sin receta médica, the Spanish-language version of Over-the-counter Medicines and Mareo (Cinetosis), the Spanish-language version of Motion Sickness.

October 1, 2004

A tri-fold color brochure is now available describing and introducing Tox Town. [The original brochure has been replaced with an updated version.]

You are welcome to print and distribute copies of the brochure. This brochure and other Tox Town images are available for downloading from the Tox Town Clip Art & Publicity Materials page at

June 4, 2004

New from MedlinePlus.

A new listserv on Environmental Health is now available from MedlinePlus. The Environmental Health listserv will be issued every Friday and will include all the environmental health news stories selected for MedlinePlus during the previous week, as well as new web resources added to topic pages related to environmental health. (The news stories are from United Press International; Scripps Howard; Reuters Health; New York Times Syndicate; and Canadian Press.)To sign up, input your e-mail address at: and specify the "Environmental Health" topic. (Also available are listservs on Children; Diabetes; Mental Health; Seniors Health; and Womens Health.)

June 4, 2004

New from MedlinePlus

Salud ocupacional para proveedores de salud, the Spanish-language version of Occupational Health for Healthcare Providers and Salud escolar, the Spanish-language version of School Health.

June 4, 2004

New from MedlinePlus: Over-the-Counter Medicines.

Learn about drug labels and the safe use of over-the-counter painkillers and other medicines. Also includes a link to Drug Information from the United States Pharmacopeia providing information on thousands of over-the-counter and prescription medications. Click on the Pharmacy in the City neighborhood for other pharmacy-related links.

May 26, 2004

New for dental care providers and other dentist office or lab employees.

Go to the City and click on the Dentist office for information on nitrous oxide exposure, infection control, hazardous chemicals and other potential environmental health concerns at work.

January 12, 2004

New from MedlinePlus: Occupational Health for Healthcare Providers.

Learn about hazards that can affect the health of physicians, dentists, nurses and all those assisting in clinical care. Topics include latex allergy, chemical exposures, needlestick injuries and more.

January 7, 2004

The Environmental Virtual Campus, developed by MIT, introduces toxic chemicals and their safety and regulation issues on a typical university campus.

Potential trouble spots include Art Studios, Theater, Cafeteria, Dormitories, Sewer, Grounds, Vehicle Maintenance, Laboratories, Medical Facilities, Power Plant, and Waste Storage.

December 13, 2003

New from MedlinePlus: School Health.

Learn about keeping kids healthy at school and what you need to know about too-heavy backpacks, nutritious school lunches, playground safety and more.

October 15, 2003

Eight new chemicals are now available in Tox Town.

Go to the Town or City Scenes and click on More Chemicals, at the bottom, for a complete list. The new chemicals include common (or "criteria") air pollutants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency: Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate Matter and Sulfur Dioxide. Other new chemicals are Benzene and Chromium. Three large groups of chemicals: Pesticides, Phthalates, and Volatile Organic Compounds are also described. Tox Town includes a 1-2 page description of each chemical, Internet links for more information, and shows where a chemical might be found in the Town or City. Chemicals are selected for Tox Town based on their wide presence and use in the United States and their potential influence on the publics health.

September 22, 2003

New from MedlinePlus: Ergonomics [also Ergonomia in Spanish].

Learn how to avoid workplace injuries.

August 12, 2003

Can dogs, cats, or other pets affect your health?

Go to the City or Town and click on Pets to learn about human health and pets. Or click on Pests for information on mosquitoes, rats, ticks and other creatures that can spread disease.

July 23, 2003

Images from the City have been added to the Clip Art & Publicity Materials page.

These images may be used for newsletters, web sites, and other materials about Tox Town.

June 18, 2003

The Household Products Database is now available from the National Library of Medicine.

This database links over 4,000 consumer brand name items to information on their health effects and allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients. Categories of products include household cleaners, automotive products, personal care items, pesticides, yard and home maintenance supplies, and materials used for hobbies and crafts.

The database is designed to help answer the following typical questions: What are the chemical ingredients and their percentage in specific brands? Which products contain specific chemical ingredients? Who manufactures a specific brand? How do I contact this manufacturer? What are the acute and chronic effects, if any, of chemical ingredients in a specific brand? What other information is available about chemicals in the toxicology-related databases of the National Library of Medicine?

Tox Town links to this new resource from the Pharmacy, Homes and other locations.

June 12, 2003

New from MedlinePlus: Monkeypox Virus Infections.

Pet prairie dogs may have this virus which can spread to humans. Click on Pets & Pests in the town or city scene.

June 11, 2003

Do you work in a pharmacy?

Purchase items in a drug store? Go to the City and click on the Pharmacy for information on drugs and other pharmacy products, as well as safety measures for pharmacy workers.

June 11, 2003

New from MedlinePlus: Hantavirus Infections.

Click on Pets & Pests in the town or city scene.

June 4, 2003

Looking for Tox Town info to distribute for a class or in your library?

For a one-page handout, either of these documents can be printed in color (or black & white), double-sided:
Tox Town Fact Sheet (National Library of Medicine) [No longer available.]
Tox Town article from NIH Word on Health

May 19, 2003

New City Scene added to Tox Town.

Go to the City for a new perspective on environmental health concerns. Many concerns, like Drinking Water, are repeated from the Town Scene, but there are new locations to explore: Airplanes and Air Travel, Brownfields, Construction, Electromagnetic Fields and a Hospital with an interior view.

May 16, 2003

New look for introductory page

Introduction page

March 27, 2003

Pets & Pests

Pets & Pests - health effects on humans. Click on the dog or the cat in the town scene.

March 27, 2003

New from MedlinePlus: Pfiesteria Infections.

Click on the River in the town scene.

March 27, 2003

Current What's New

Last updated: July 16, 2008

Interactive Graphic Neighborhoods City Farm Town US Border Regions Port US Southwest