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Keeping Toxic Chemicals Out of Our Bodies

Keeping Toxic Chemicals Out of Our Bodies

“Do your kids have allergies? . . . Oh, you’re so lucky. So many kids have allergies these days. . . Their little souls agree to come here but their bodies can’t take it. This world is so messed up.”

That’s pretty much how a recent playground conversation with a neighborhood grandmother went. We struck up a conversation after my toddler daughter began to imitate her granddaughter’s cough (good time for a pre-flu season lesson about coughing into your sleeve). We ended up discussing the causes of the marked increase in childhood environmental and food allergies.

It’s a common observation among grandparents that their kids didn’t have allergies and they don’t remember the neighborhood kids having allergies. Sure kids got sick but few seemed to have chronic conditions. Now all the kids seem to have allergies, asthma, or ADHD or other special conditions. There are lots of reasons for the increases, better diagnostics may be one, but a possible culprit that may finally get some attention under the Obama administration is chemical exposure.

U.S. Chemicals Regulation is Not Doing the Job
Of more than 80,000 chemicals on the United States market, only 200 or so have been tested for health effects. The U.S. law that governs chemicals places such a high burden on the government to show that a chemical is harmful that the Environmental Protection Agency has only banned one group of chemicals, PCBs, in the three decades since the law passed.

I blogged a couple of weeks ago on one example of where that leaves us: voluntary action by industry. This summer researchers were shocked to discover that a toxic flame retardant that became controversial in the 1980s and was removed from children’s clothing may have been quietly phased back in by industry for use in children’s products and furniture, perhaps as other flame retardants came under fire in the early 2000s. This is no way to manage toxic chemicals. Environmental Defense is even reporting that toxic chemicals banned in China are being exported to the United States.

Congress and EPA to Reform Toxic Chemicals Laws
Recently, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson unveiled a strong set of principles for toxic chemical reform and will be working with long-time environmental health advocates in Congress, Senators Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg and Representatives Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush, to introduce bills this fall/winter that incorporate them.

But this will not be an easy fight. One headline for an industry trade publication on Jackson’s principles read: “Obama Administration backs radical TSCA reform.” The American Chemistry Council has also issued principles for reform that the Environmental Working Group called “broken from the very beginning when it comes to protecting human health and the environment.”

What Can You Do to Support Reforming our Broken Chemicals Regulations?
Start by signing this petition asking Congress to reform the broken U.S. toxic chemical laws that are not protecting us from toxic chemicals and then share this story with your family and friends using the social networking links up by the picture.

You can also read my blog on the failure of voluntary industry action on toxic chemicals here.

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Photo of child getting allergy treatments by Flickr user fajalar / CC BY-ND 2.0

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6:30PM PDT on Oct 13, 2009

Life was provided with an ecosystem which provided all our needs for health and growth. But for industrious humanity, that never was good enough. We discovered that the larger the food crops, the more money there was to be made and the more control we'd have over its distribution. So came the ever expanding monocrop industry, along with the need for chemical pesticides, herbicides and laboratory developed growth hormones, which as a consequence triggered the food transport industry and the technologies that convert the Earth's mineral resources into factory produced materials that further allowed us to produce the convenience lifestyle along with its increasing hazards towards health and the Earth's otherwise well balanced natural environment.
Chemicals, the products of mining driven by human obsession to control Life, the original building blocks of the Natural Sustainable Ecosystem, once taken out of the ground and meddled with in laboratories, have brought us the consequent progression from disease resistant constitution to genetic alteration incapable of resistance. But, human genius will find a solution, albeit the usual temporary bandaid measure, usually after too many people die from yet another new disease.
We refuse to acknowledge that man made chemicals are the cause of all diseases including aggressive, violent and destructive behaviour; our natural genetic constitution has no remedies for laboratory altered substances.
We're caught up in our self made demise.

12:44PM PDT on Oct 13, 2009

What with all the environmental toxins, it's no wonder there are health problems. Those don't even count the chemicals in our food. What about the chemicals in our bath/body products. Children don't stand a chance from day 1. Baby shampooo, baby wash, lotion, etc. are loaded with chemicals. Dryer sheets are carcinogenic! It's difficult to get these poisons, toxins, carcinogens, chemicals out of our daily lives, but I think it's a necessary step. And then they wonder why cancer is on the rise....

10:47AM PDT on Oct 13, 2009

Almost every product in the market place contains harmful chemicals ...everything from loo paper to eye drops ... people need as much information as possible to be able to identify dangerous ingredients and get them out of their lives. That's why I am a Neways distributor.My email address is maggie_mccue@hotmail.com

7:06AM PDT on Oct 13, 2009

I was just discussing this issue with a friend the other day. She is from India and said inspite of all the air pollution there they do not have all the allergies and asthma.
She is a high school teacher here and believes 50% of her students have asthma.
So if it is not air pollution what is it? And keep in mind we had worse air pollution here when we burned wood, coal, and oil for heat.
That leaves us with herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals as this article says.
Can Americans learn or are they just going to let this rise in health issues continue? I am worried.

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Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
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