Family schedules, growth milestones, new shoes and homework -- don't parents have enough to worry about just parenting? Not to mention one or two parents in the home having to earn a living. Add on top of that reading every label on every product ever purchased. For good measure, throw in an advanced degree in chemistry. Even then, according to family advocates, you won't really know all of the toxic chemicals your family is being exposed to, because manufacturers aren't required to give full disclosure.
Science is showing cause for concern about chemicals in our everyday environment and chronic diseases such as asthma, autism, reproductive problems, diabetes, childhood leukemia and other cancers. Many of the chemicals seem to be endocrine disruptors, which work in tiny amounts, accumulating over time, to wreak havoc on our bodies' natural systems.
|Deputy Director Lindsay Dahl|
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
"Most people assume that someone out there is kind of minding the store," explains Lindsay Dahl. Instead, the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition of public health groups, businesses and environmentalists says we need stronger federal standards for toxic chemicals in the United States. Dahl is Deputy Director of the group encouraging passage of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would revamp the old Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. She says TSCA only accomplished federal testing of 200 substances, while it grandfathered in thousands of others and has let tens of thousands of chemicals in our products go unregulated. In other words, no one has to prove a substance is safe before creating a product for your family to use.
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families stresses that no family, no matter how well-informed, can research and shop completely protected from toxic chemicals. Some examples are formaldehyde in carpets, triclosan in soap and polyvinyl chloride in plastic toys. One of the most clearly researched chemicals in recent years has been the hormone disruptor Bisphenol-A in food and beverage containers and, until recently, even in baby bottles. Dahl says, "Chemicals are unregulated in this country. Until federal law is reformed, we're not going to have a system that ensures chemicals are safe before they end up in our products and our homes."
"1. Take immediate action on the most dangerous chemicals.
"2. Require basic information to identify chemicals of concern.
"3. Use the best science to protect people and vulnerable groups."
Tomorrow: How has the struggle to protect consumers from BPA influenced efforts for wider reform? And how can you get involved to protect your family and others?