…Putting Canadians At Risk

Cartoon-like image of common chemical-filled household products

Toxic household products – a few examples

Chemical Overload From Soaps, Makeup And More

Governments are entrusted with the task of determining if chemical ingredients are safe to use in consumer products and to determine so called ‘safe’ levels of exposure to certain substances. There is an ever-growing body of evidence, which indicates that consumer’s health is not being protected by the Regulatory Acts and Governing Bodies whose responsibility it is to do so. This is evidenced by the myriad of toxic chemicals to be found in cosmetics, other personal care products, beauty products, household cleaners, furniture, clothing, construction materials etcetera. The previous examples do not even begin to scratch the surface of the toxic chemical matrix by which, we are surrounded and in which, we live our lives.

Who Is Protecting Canadian Consumers?

In Canada, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 1999) is the umbrella law for the regulation of chemicals. CEPA is administered by various departments of Health Canada, and by Environment Canada.

The 23,000 chemicals, which were in use prior to CEPA, have been categorized to determine which chemicals are:

Inherently toxic to humans or to the environment and that might be:

    1.   Persistent (take a very long time to break down), and/or
    2.   Bio-accumulative (collect in living organisms and end up in the food chain)

Substances to which people might have greatest potential for exposure

Through this process of categorization, the government has identified approximately 4000 chemicals as meeting their criteria for requiring ‘further attention’, leaving some 19,000 chemicals deemed as not requiring further attention at this time.

Under CEPA, all new chemicals produced in or imported into Canada since 1994 must be assessed against specified criteria. However, companies can market a chemical before tests are completed. It costs many hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring a product to market. Therefore, it stands to reason that these companies must be very confident that there is almost no chance that the government will rule against their product once the government testing process is complete.

Regulations Governing Chemicals Need Improvement

It is a major flaw in the present legislation that requires the government to prove that a chemical is a risk before it can be taken off the market. Instead, new chemicals should not be permitted into use prior to all safety testing being completed. Secondly, the task and financial responsibility to prove a new chemical safe, should not fall on taxpayers. That cost belongs squarely on the company who is proposing the use of a new chemical.

Managing The Risk – Versus Protecting Planet, People And Wildlife

Finally, CEPA places no obligation for the government to keep dangerous chemicals off the shelves, and so, they do not. This writers research, finds that the Health Canada and Environment Canada occupies a large portion of its time and resources with managing the use of harmful substances and chemicals.  Here is one example of toxic chemical management. Canada has declared BPA as a toxic substance; however, they have only banned it from use in baby bottles. That is what the government calls managing the risk. It often seems as though being ‘industry friendly’ takes precedence over protecting people, wildlife and our environment. Even so called ‘prohibited’ toxic chemicals are not always, actually prohibited, since there are often ‘exceptions to the prohibition’, which then permits their use.

Links Between Overuse Of Harmful Chemicals And Disease

There is an ever-growing body of evidence from scientific and medical research, which is suggesting links between the pervasive presence of harmful chemicals in our lives and the growing prevalence of  some diseases. Diseases such as various cancers, arthritis, lupus, (and many other auto-immune disorders) diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, COPD, Parkinson’s, impaired fertility, birth defects, learning disabilities, autism, reproductive dysfunction, (such as low sperm counts) ADHD, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, and asthma. All of these diseases are on the rise and some of them at rates warranting the term epidemic, such as asthma. The rising rates of these and many other diseases cannot be ‘explained away’ by simply citing rising population numbers.

It’s Not About Doom And Gloom – It Is About Making Informed Choices

As always, I encourage my readers to become habitual about reading labels.  It is important to know that for every product that we use, there are healthier alternatives that we can choose instead.  We just need to stay informed, seek out the healthier alternatives and make new choices.  “Informed consumers, who act on what they know, are a spark for change, in a consumer driven economy.” (Click to Tweet)

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