Why should we seek out and choose healthier products?

People all over the world are exposed to a myriad of chemical ingredients on a daily basis.

A multitude of brightly coloured household products, without labels

Chemical cocktail in household products

Harmful ingredients are found in personal care products (shampoo, soap, deodorant etc.), household cleaners, furniture, clothing, construction materials, cosmetics, processed foods and more.

Regulations Governing Chemicals In The U.S.

The citizens of the United States depend upon the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whose job it is to enforce the legislation of the Toxic Substances Control Act.  The TSCA passed into law in 1976 and has not undergone any significant updates since that time.  In May 2013, a Bill was introduced into the Senate proposing the TSCA’s first overhaul since its inception.  There seems to be a growing belief that the EPA lacks teeth and that TSCA is outdated and ineffectual.  If this is true, then has the health and well-being of the American people been placed at risk for the past 40 plus years?

Protective Measures Lacking Teeth

A New York Times article authored by Ian Urbina on April 13, 2013 made the following observations; “industrial chemicals do not have to be tested before they are put on the market.  Under the law regulating chemicals, producers are only rarely required to provide the federal government with the information necessary to assess safety.”  The article goes on to say that, “Companies are not required to provide any safety data when they notify the agency (E.P.A.) about a new chemical, and they rarely do it voluntarily, although the E.P.A. can later request data if it can show there is a potential risk.  (?)   If the E.P.A. does not take steps to block the new chemical within 90 days or suspend review until a company provides any requested data, the chemical is by default given a green light.”

The E.P.A. is effectively handcuffed and hobbled; as it cannot (under the existing law) require testing to determine whether a risk exists without first showing that a risk is likely!  These kinds of restrictions on this regulatory body do not seem to be in the highest interest of the public safety.  The result of this is that of the 85,000 industrial chemicals in use today; only a small percentage of them (less than 300) have had safety testing.  Furthermore, as reported in the same article; once the chemicals are in use, the burden placed on the E.P.A. to prove possible risk is so onerous that in its 37-year history it has succeeded in banning or restricting only five substances!

If the E.P.A., by administering the available legislation (TSCA) is not successfully protecting the health and safety of U.S. citizens from the harmful effects of some very toxic chemicals; then who is being protected by its inefficacy?  In a report as recent as February 2010, the E.P.A.’s Office of the Inspector General has stated that the TSCA is “inconsistent and presents a minimal presence.”  That statement amounts to a terse dismissal of what ought to be a formidable piece of legislation.  This same agency states that the regulatory body (E.P.A.) is “predisposed to protect industry information rather than to provide public access to health and safety studies.”  This same report makes the point that all too often industries utilize the hiding place, which is known as, ‘trade secrets’ to prevent effective testing of their product ingredients.

Whether you regard yourself as politically active or not, I would make the point that the products that we choose to purchase and NOT purchase are political statements too. (Click to Tweet) If we make different choices for even a fraction of the expenditures that we make, then that will have a very significant and positive impact on our health, and the ripple effects of those brave new decisions will reach into our communities, our nations and ultimately to our entire planet.  With that, I will leave you with the following quote.

“Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” ~ Margaret Mead