Glossary of environmental terms

This glossary is a work in progress. If the term or concept that's baffling you isn't on this list, just ask and we'll add it.

Is the ozone hole still an issue?

Since the phase-out of ozone-depleting compounds, atmospheric concentrations of many such gases has lessened. However, it will take many years for the ozone hole to heal.

Black particles in tapwater?

Q: My kitchen sink mixer was recently replaced by a plumber and he flushed the pipes for more than half an hour, emptying my geyser in the process.

What are “heavy metals”?

“Heavy metals” are those with high density. They are often implicated in human poisoning, especially lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.

What is multiple chemical sensitivity?

“Multiple chemical sensitivity” means that a person is hypersensitive to chemicals in the environment. The condition is associated with chronic flu-like or allergy-like symptoms

What is sick building syndrome?

Sick building syndrome is when people who occupy a building experience symptoms that occur mainly when they spend time there. The cause is thought to be poor indoor air quality.

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