Toxic chemicals will sneak into your holiday - find out why

both

CarbonNYC/flickr

You try to keep toxic chemicals out of your home year round, and the holidays are no different. Maybe you’re practicing clean shopping this holiday season; buying an organic, free-range turkey; using a cast iron pot to make your stuffing instead of a “non-stick” one. That’s all great, it really is. But it’s not enough. Despite your best efforts, toxic chemicals will sneak in. No mere mortal can keep a Chemical Naughty List (let alone check it twice), because what we really need is a new chemical law.

Let’s face it: Toxic chemicals sneak up on you. You might steer clear of BPA in food cans and water bottles, but then you’re handed a receipt at the store that likely has BPA all over it.  You may try to avoid cosmetics with phthalates, but they’re probably lurking in your car’s dashboard. Even if you don’t cook in pans that contain PFCs, they may be in your post-dinner dental floss!

Though it’s impossible to avoid toxic chemicals, you’re good to try, as the facts are clear: Scientific studies link exposure to certain toxic chemicals to major diseases, ranging from obesity and diabetes to Parkinson’s, developmental disabilities, childhood cancers and infertility.

But there are tens of thousands of chemicals in use today. And they’re not just in plastics and cleaners. Chemicals are used to make 96% of all materials and products. And the regulators charged with protecting us don’t know nearly enough to tell which ones might be problematic and which are safe. When a company takes BPA out of a product, who is to say that the chemical they replace it with is any better?

A big part of the problem is that the law that is supposed to protect us, originally signed in 1976 (almost 40 years ago!), grandfathered in 60,000 existing chemicals – without requiring they be tested or evaluated for safety.  They were simply presumed to be safe. Nor did the law give EPA enough power to properly evaluate the more than 20,000 new chemicals that have come on the market since then.

That’s why we’re working to improve and pass legislation before the Congress, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act. The government should make sure that all chemicals in use today are safe.  And the safety of any new chemical should be evaluated before it comes on the market. 

Isn’t it enough to worry about making sure the turkey gets to 165 degrees? Worrying about whether the chemicals in your oven mitts are toxic should be someone else’s problem.  If Congress gets to work, this time next holiday season, we just might have the gift of a new chemical safety law. You can help by urging your Senators to support stronger toxic chemicals controls. 

 

Jennifer McPartland

Jennifer McPartland

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is an EDF health scientist focusing on chemicals policy.

View full bio »

Get new posts by email

We'll deliver a daily digest to your inbox.


RSS RSS feed

Comments

The corporations that survive through the sale of the chemicals that they produce
have little more concern for the health of the American (or world's people for that
matter) than the fossil fuel industry has for the environment that they are in the
process of helping to destroy.

Virtually 100 percent of everything is a chemical. Air contains chemicals, proteins are chemicals, sugars and fats are chemicals. Without chemicals life would not exist. Get off your high horse.

Toxic is the key word here. Not all chemicals are toxic, but you try to avoid the ones that are!

TOXIC chemicals. Which are linked to escalating rates of cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, developmental disorders, all the modern scourges.

I believe it they are referring to "toxic" chemicals... Those are the problem.

Although it is true that "virtually 100 percent of everything is a chemical", some are 'toxic chemicals'. Without 'toxic' chemicals life will exist. With 'toxic' chemicals, life, including your life, will not exist. Hop on your horse, and join us.