Everyday Uses and Applications of Common Chemicals

Occasionally, narratives are born around particular chemicals and elements that make the everyday person frightened by their name. However, most chemicals appear in what we eat, drink, and bathe with–even those that appear to be dangerous. The truth is that many chemicals can be hazardous, and those very same chemicals can be in what you eat. So, to quell some of that understandable fear, here are some of the everyday uses and applications of common chemicals.


While formaldehyde is known as a cancer-causing carcinogen, you can be exposed to about .75 parts per million in the air for 8 hours and two parts per million for fifteen minutes. In addition, formaldehyde isn’t all dangerous as it naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots. When eaten, inhaled, or injected, these trace amounts are quickly metabolized and expelled.

Typically, you can find formaldehyde in:

  • Flu Vaccine: 1ppm
  • Paint: 0.03ppm
  • Glue: 0.3ppm
  • Wood composites: 0.05 to 0.09ppm

It is important to note that exposure to formaldehyde in the home versus in the bloodstream is different. A vaccine is considered short-term exposure with how quickly it metabolizes, while formaldehyde in-home products are regarded as long-term exposure. This is why the numbers appear vastly different.


While cyanide certainly isn’t something you want to consume as it is generally very dangerous, there are safe levels that you’re exposed to every day. In nature, cyanide is most commonly found in apple seeds. As cyanide toxicity occurs at around 3.5 milligrams, you would have to eat around 300 apple seeds to reach dangerous levels.

Cyanide can also be found in

  • Almonds: 0.25mg per ounce
  • Air: 0.02 ppm (0.02mg)
  • Cooked lima beans: 0.748mg per pound


Low levels of arsenic are found in the soil, air, and water. It also helps our metabolism process amino acids. Arsenic is safe at about ten micrograms per liter, and a similar amount is found in many medications. For example, the chemical is used to treat psoriasis, skin ulcers, and joint disease.

Most notably, arsenic is used in treating leukemia in a relatively recent medication called Trisenox. When in combination, arsenic trioxide can be safely used at 12 micrograms as the oxygen weakens the absorption capacity.

Ultimately, these everyday uses and applications of common chemicals occur because they exist at safe levels that the body can handle and expel. It must be understood that all chemicals are composites of elements. As elements are the building blocks of our world, their products will be everywhere to some degree.

It is always important to take note of what you consume, what chemicals and elements may be in them, and what the safe levels are for your weight. So don’t be afraid and take your health into your own hands.

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