I’m quite aware that chemicals lurk everywhere in our daily lives, whether we want them to or not. We live in a day and age where our most commonly used products contain a plethora of man made chemicals. What’s even worse is that many of these chemicals are toxic and not regulated by the agencies that are supposed to keep us safe, and certainly not by the companies themselves. The good news is, there’s a simple solution. But first, here are a few facts I learned from watching The Human Experiment, a documentary that explores the chemicals we use in our everyday lives.
1. In 1999, 1 in 500 kids had autism. Today it’s 1 in 88.
Other increases over the past 45 years:
Childhood brain cancer 38%
Leukemia in children 74%
Early onset puberty 55%
Genital deformities in baby boys 122%
Life threatening birth defects >100%
Not to mention, breast cancer rates have gone up more than 30% in women and men since 1975. It’s increasingly occurring in very young women who have no family history of cancer, don’t smoke, drink, or eat meat, and have active lifestyles.
2. “Over the last 100 years, thousands of chemicals have been introduced to our society. 80,000 chemicals are on the market in the United States. They’re in everything from curtains, upholstery to furniture, to the make-up or shaving cream you used this morning. Your electronics, cleaners, the very materials used to build your home. 42 billion pounds of chemicals enter American commerce everyday. That amount would fill up 623,000 tanker trucks. Over the last century, chemical use has gone up more than 2000%. Chemicals surround us. They are inside us. Most of these chemicals are not tested for their safety because industry in America does not have to prove a chemical is safe before it gets onto the market. Instead, like a defendant in an American courtroom, the chemical is innocent until proven guilty.”
3. The Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of monitoring the chemical industry in the U.S. as laid out by the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976.
There were already 62,000 chemicals being used at the time the law was enacted. These chemicals were grandfathered into the act and assumed safe since they had already been in use. Not enough research or data can be collected now to see if they really are safe because they’re protected by this law.
Taking action once the EPA knows a chemical is unsafe is incredibly difficult because the hoops to jump through are so high and the lobbyists have so much power. The Toxic Substance Control Act hasn’t been updated since it was created in 1976. However, in December 2015 the US Senate passed a bill that will allow the EPA to have more tools and leverage when it comes to regulating chemicals.
4. “The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is the trade association of the $720 billion a year US chemical industry. They represent companies like DOW, DuPont, Exxon Mobil, and more than 100 others. In 2011 the chemical industry spent more than $52 million lobbying Washington. Health advocates are struggling to level the playing field against this formidable opponent.
Only 13 health and environmental groups reported lobbying for an improved toxics law in 2012. They were outnumbered 6-1 by industry interests.”
5. Bisphenol A (BPA) – one of the highest volume chemicals produced in the world.
In the early 1900’s it began being used as a miscarriage preventer because it contained estrogen properties. Plastic producers realized it was also good for use in plastics because it’s clear and extremely shatterproof. It started appearing in everything and it’s a $6 billion industry today. When BPA gets into our bodies it can behave like hormones. 93% of Americans tested have BPA in their bloodstream. A scientist doing a study on mice found that they were aborting their pups and it was discovered this was due to the BPA in their plastic water bottles. Over 300 similar studies proved the same results. Mothers began wondering why we are giving babies bottles with these chemicals in them. Legislation was introduced but it never got anywhere because the studies being done were funded by groups such as the ACC and the American Plastics Council whose interests were to keep people from knowing how dangerous this chemical is.
6. The Four Dog Defense is used by the companies and the PR firms that work for them.
1. My dog does not bite – the company denies its product is harmful. This includes discrediting the studies that scientists have shown point to harm.
2. My dog bites, but it didn’t bite you – the industry concedes their product may be harmful, but that average people aren’t exposed to it.
3. My dog bit you, but it didn’t hurt you – the industry agrees that people are exposed, but that they aren’t harmed by the chemical. The industries assure us that the chemicals are only harmful if used in doses that are highly unrealistic in daily life.
4. My dog bit you and it did hurt you, but it wasn’t my fault – the industry finally admits the chemical is making people sick but it shifts the blame. It wasn’t their fault the consumer used the product, it was the individual’s choice.
7. Brominated Flame Retardants are persistent compounds that build up in our bodies. They are similar in structure to the banned toxic substances DDT and PCBs. Sofas and electronics (among other items) contain these flame retardants. The chemical doesn’t bind to the product, they fall to the floor. That’s where the most direct contact comes from.
In 1975 California enacted one of the world’s strictest fire safety standards causing manufacturers to add chemical flame retardants to many products.
Despite three decades of use, chemical flame retardants have never been proven to reduce fire deaths in California.
When California state legislator Mark Leno introduced a bill against the toxicity of the substance, the flame retardant companies launched a multi million dollar campaign that used the tactic of promoting fire safety and completely ignoring the fact that flame retardants are laden with toxic chemicals. They even had 3 ten-year-old boys flown to California to speak up for “fire safety” and beg their politicians to keep them “safe from fire.” Mark Leno introduced 4 bills and all were defeated. Since 2007 manufacturers of fire retardants have spent more than $23 million defending California’s flammability standard.
In 2013, public outcry led California’s governor to revise the state’s flammability standard.
It’s scary to think how many chemicals are flowing through your bloodstream and what the long term affect of those chemicals will be to your body and mind. ☢☠
The main problem is that the products we use in our everyday lives don’t come with a warning label or any information informing consumers of what they are buying and bringing into their home. These chemical manufacturers are fueled by profit, but if consumers aren’t buying their products, manufacturers will either be forced to make safe products or stop selling them all together.
“Things have always changed because people speak out about something. Any historical movement has worked that way, and people do need to get involved.”
Women in particular are very interested and eager to gain information about chemicals because they are often decision makers in the family. They buy the products that their families use, they use the cleaning products to clean their house, they buy cosmetics. They want to do right not only by themselves, but by their children. Making conscious, informative decisions for their families makes women feel empowered.
Educate yourself and your family about what chemicals and products to avoid, and the safe alternatives to replace them with. Spend money on the products that don’t use toxic chemicals. There’s tons of communities and non-profit organizations all over the country devoted to creating awareness, pushing for safer legislation, and providing support. We have to speak up for what we want ??