Dangerous Chemicals: Take Action for a Healthier Life

Unlike Europe, where manufacturers must prove chemicals are safe before selling them, chemicals in the United States are innocent until proven guilty. The federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) allows American manufacturers to sell chemicals without testing them for safety. TSCA places the burden of proof on the Environmental Protection Agency to show harm, rather than on manufacturers to show safety (Moyer). After more than 20 years of DDT use to control mosquitoes, it took the publication of Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring and a decade of scientific data before the EPA removed DDT from the American market. And 40 years after flame retardants were discovered to be harmful, many of them, or their dangerous substitutes, are still on the market. The government might not act in time to protect you or the ones you love. Your safety may not be the priority of chemical manufacturers. And the great work by watch-dog and advocacy groups isn’t enough—we’re still surrounded by dangerous chemicals every day. This puts the burden on you. What you don’t know CAN hurt you. The Good News There are numerous resources available to help you learn about the threats chemicals pose and help you take the necessary steps to reduce your exposure: The Good Guide ranks more than 250,000 household products for their health, environment and social impacts, then recommends healthier alternatives when they exist. Good stuff! The Green Science Policy Institute is a clearinghouse for scientific data to inform consumers and decision makers about chemicals. Ecocenter.org is a Michigan-based nonprofit organization with good information for consumers, such as their reports on chemicals of concern and their healthystuff.org database of least-toxic products. 10 Harmful Chemicals to Avoid, by Parents Magazine, will help you identify some of the most dangerous chemical culprits in order to avoid them. Whatsonmyfood.org is a searchable database that will help you understand the chemicals and their associated health risks, which might be in your shopping cart or on your dinner plate. Sign up for the Pesticide Action Network’s Action Center. Their action alerts will keep you informed about laws and regulations in development that affect you, your family, and the environment, and give you opportunities to weigh-in to influence healthier and stronger regulation of the toxics that endanger you. Toxipedia.org is a free encyclopedia of articles and resources about toxic chemicals and their impacts on humans and the environment. Toxipedia.org is a project of the nonprofit Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders.

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