Did you know the chemicals used in your shampoo, body lotion, detergent, and cleaners don’t need to be tested for safety prior to going on the market? Naturally, we assume these products wouldn’t be allowed to be sold unless they had been proven safe. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with consumer chemicals (pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and industrial chemicals have different testing criteria). The Toxic Substances Control Act hasn’t been updated since it was adopted in 1970. This means criteria for addressing chemicals is seriously outdated. According to Dr. Richard Denison, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, “it’s the worst kind of Catch- 22. Under this law, the EPA can’t even require testing to determine whether a risk exists without first showing a risk is likely”.
We see this same scenario over and over. Before any action can be taken to insure America’s safety, a risk or danger has to be PROVEN! Where is the common sense factor? Prove a product is safe before it is allowed on the market! Only a minute number of the chemicals on the market today have been independently tested for safety. The EPA has mandated testing in only a handful of the 85,000 industrial chemicals used in products today on suspicion of toxic or dangerous properties. And since 1970, the EPA has only banned five substances: polychlorinated bisphenols, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, asbestos, and chlorofluorocarbons!
We are exposed to so many more chemicals than we were in the 1970’s. Chemicals are everywhere. There are bisphenols in our water bottles and cans. Our mattresses, sofas, and children’s sleep wear have flame retardants. There are nonylphenols in detergents, shampoos, and paints. We cook with Teflon, use stain resistants on clothes, furniture, and carpet, and put chlorine and fluoride in our water. We are exposed to so many chemicals that they have become ubiquitous. Research is showing that newborn babies have more than 200 identifiable chemicals in their cord blood and many of them are known carcinogens.
Federal reform hopefully will be on the 2013 agenda. Senators Frank Lauten and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced a bill called the Safe Chemical Act of 2013, which would require proof that chemical is safe in order to be sold. Unfortunately, there is opposition citing this bill would raise costs, limit innovation, and put American companies at a competitive disadvantage.
What can you do to limit your chemical consumption? Eat organic foods whenever possible. When buying mattresses, request a medical note to omit flame retardant (we do this at the office). Use a water purifier to remove chloride and fluoride. Don’t microwave in plastic. Avoid Teflon products. Wash new clothes prior to wearing. Buy clothes that don’t need to be dry cleaned. Look for shampoos without sodium laurel sulfate and detergents without phenols, chlorine bleach, and chemical fragrance. Avoid phthalates and parabens in lotions and cosmetics. Look around your home, garden, and office and try to eliminate as many unnecessary chemicals as possible.