Back in 2010, a report by the President’s Cancer Panel called for a change in the regulation of chemicals produced by industry. Why? Because a study had found that babies were polluted at birth . Before they even had the privilege of joining the physical world, the unborn were found to be affected by the sins of it. Research showed that, almost universally, the bodies of newborn infants were already infested with upwards of 200 different chemicals – and those are only the ones that can be tested for . The placenta, the safeguard nature has put in place for a developing baby in the womb can’t defend against the ugly side of industrialization. And now, nearly three years later, nothing has changed. That should make you both sick and angry.
Critics have long viewed “toxins” as a make-believe concept conjured up by natural medical practitioners, and “weirdos” who are rightfully skeptical of the safety of the wares produced by the food, drug, and chemical industries. Frankly, I don’t know how educated persons could be so blind. You don’t need a chemical engineering degree to figure this one out. Heck, go to the home goods section of any big box retailer and examine the warning labels on the various home cleaning (oxymoron?) products. This stuff is used en masse, every single day by, literally, hundreds of millions of people… and that’s not including the horribly caustic chemicals used, and dumped into the environment by large industry. No effect? The incidence of all degenerative diseases, cancer, autism, etc, is on the rise. A person would have to be purposely obtuse to believe this trash isn’t negatively affecting the environment and the human race.
Who is to Blame?
In 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act was introduced. Like many pieces of legislation, the name of the act is far more misleading and feel-good than its substance is effective. Contrary to what you might think and hope, the TSCA doesn’t implement logical safeguards, restrictions, or safety testing. In fact, when the TSCA was passed, it included the rubber-stamp approval of 60,000 chemicals already being used by industry. Today, that list has grown to 80,000 chemicals, which includes known and suspected carcinogens, and only 200 (0.0025%) of them have been tested for safety by the EPA. Is it just me or does that sound horrendously unacceptable? These are the chemicals used to produce food containers, toys, and just about everything else most people use on a daily basis. In addition, the TCSA allows industry to keep some ingredients a secret, and upwards of 20% of the chemicals on that list ARE a secret.
The TSCA is flawed from top to bottom and one of the largest problems is that chemical manufacturers are not required to demonstrate a product is safe, the government must prove it’s harmful. Well, clearly, that can only happen AFTER harm has already been inflicted; if it’s to happen at all. Abysmally, since inception of the TSCA in 1976, only 5 chemicals have been banned- PCBs, chlorofluorocarbons, dioxin, asbestos, and hexavalent chromium… and the asbestos ban was overturned, despite the fact that upwards of 10,000 people a year die of asbestos related causes.
What Needs to Happen?
Despite recommendations at the highest level, the TSCA remains unchanged. It’s a tall order, but congress needs to shape up and amend the TSCA, drastically, to require far more stringent safety testing and transparency for chemicals used in industry. The burden of safety needs to be on industry, period. Although we live in a polluted world, we also all need to be personally active and accountable for ourselves. This includes speaking up to our elected officials and demanding that issues like this not be ignored. It also includes making personal decisions that help offset the odds as much as possible. Your diet needs to be as organic as possible. Your water needs to be purified. Your home needs to be detoxified. The health of our children and nation, literally, depends on this.
- Laura LeBlanc. Babies are polluted at birth, new report says. PBS. 2010 May 13.
- Environmental Working Group. First BPA detection in U.S. infant cord blood. EWG Public Affairs. 2009 December 2.