News

Website of the Week — Tox Town

Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. This week it's a site that uses a colorful interface to help you learn about the toxic risks in everyday life, and how you can protect yourself.

SZCZUR:  "Tox Town is a website about commonly-encountered toxic substances, health and environment, and it illustrates where there are everyday locations where you might find toxic chemicals, and also it will point out some of the impacts associated with the environmental hazards."

That's Marti Szczur of the National Library of Medicine, which produces Tox Town at toxtown.nlm.nih.gov.

Tox Town presents cartoon-like pictures of a city, a farm and other environments, with lots of features to click on - such as schools and rivers and factories — and get links to possible hazards, as well as related issues.

For example, click on a car and you'll be directed to information on vehicle safety, fuel economy, and emissions, including details on the dangers of chemicals that are associated with vehicles. The links include resources such as government health and safety agencies. And since Tox Town is produced by the National Library of Medicine, it assures the high quality of the information.

SZCZUR:  "And as a library we actually have gone in and very carefully selected some of the resources that would be the most useful and are highly reliable, information about these different contaminants."

Take a walk along a city street in Tox Town, for example. There’s a sandwich shop, with information about food safety and second-hand smoke, and a hair salon, where the dangers include a variety of toxic chemicals. Marti Szczur suggested stopping at the dental office a few doors down.

SZCZUR:  "There's a dentist which, when you roll over it — they all have sound effects and the one, when you roll over the dentist, gives you that horrible drill sound  but it entices you to go in and take a look at information related to chemicals in a dental office and the lab."

There are issues here not just for patients, but also for the dental office workers. For example, beryllium is a known carcinogen that is used in making crowns and bridges.

Tox Town has a full range of everyday toxic hazards, and advice on how to avoid them, at toxtown.nlm.nih.gov, or get the link from our site, voanews.com.

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