Photo by permission of Paul Goyette.
December’s topic for this month’s Green Moms Carnival is prevention. The question asked is, if we could create an agenda for our new President in order to prevent certain environmental, health, or social injustices from occurring, what would it be. It is a thought provoking theme, which given the diversity of the Green Moms should be very interesting. In December, this carnival will be hosted by Diane at the Big Green Purse. (See the carnival post on Big Green Purse.) In addition, she has also set up a Prevention Agenda forum (a Ning group, which is a social networking group) where anyone can list their prevention agendas and interact with each other. Diane has been a mover and shaker in the environmental field way before I knew what recycling was. She will be submitting these recommendations to the Obama transition team. So, if you want to be heard, the Prevention Agenda forum is the place to be.
Here is my prevention agenda:
Dear Mr. President-elect:
I view myself as an advocate to help people live a more sustainable, healthier lifestyle. However, it is hard to be informative about a healthy lifestyle when every month there seems to be another chemical that has either leached into our food, appears in our toys, or shows up in our breast milk.
The Environmental Working Group (“EWG”) did a study of 10 cord blood samples in 2004. They were testing for 413 toxic chemicals. What they found was that on average each sample contained over 200 toxic chemicals ranging from consumer products, pesticides, to products that were banned thirty years ago. The babies whose cord blood samples were taken were being exposed while in utero.
“Babies like this in the womb are at their most vulnerable stage in life. Their organs are developing very rapidly. Brains…their hormones, immune systems. Their sexual development is being determined. Everything would tell you that you want to protect them from toxic chemicals. Everything we know tell us that we don’t,” explains Ken Cook, president of EWG during his explanation of the video, “10 Americans.”
When EWG matched these chemicals up against their toxicity databases, they found that 134 of these chemicals cause cancer, 151 are associated with birth defects, 154 are associated with hormone disruption, 186 are associated with infertility, 130 immune disruptors, and 158 associated with neurotoxins. Although this amount of associated disruptors adds up beyond the 200 chemicals noted above, many of the chemicals have multiple effects.
If the EWG had more money to test for more chemicals, who knows what they would have found? Just the testing they did was scary enough to say it is time to wake up. Look what we are doing to our children. We need to prevent these exposures from happening. We don’t know what effects these chemicals have on our unborn children.
What we do know is that in the last twenty years there has been an increase in certain diseases or afflictions such as breast cancer, acute lymphocytic leukemia, brain cancer and autism, just to name a few. The US has the highest rate of cancer in the world.
I look at my own children who have learning disabilities, asthma, juvenile diabetes, and ADD. I know this isn’t right. I have known children in my own community who have died of cancer. Mothers dying of breast cancer, and a rise in the amount of autistic children in the community.
Mr. President-Elect, we need to stop the exposure of toxic chemicals by updating the 1976 Toxic Substance Chemical Act (TSCA). A law that grandfathered 62,000 chemicals presumed to be safe. It has been more than thirty years since it was signed into law, and we are still living in the seventies. It is a re-run not worth watching.
In this country, chemicals and the justice system have a lot in common. You are innocent until proven guilty. I can understand this approach with regard to the justice system, but please explain to me why manufacturing companies are not required to provide health and safety studies prior to chemicals coming onto the market? 20,000 new chemicals have come onto the market since TSCA was enacted.
According to a press release issued by Senator Frank Lautenberg, a sponsor of the Bill, the EPA has only required testing of 200 chemicals out of the 80,000 chemicals used in our homes today. The rest? Rubber stamped no doubt. This law is part of a broken system in which the government is clearly not looking after our best interest.
What about nanotechnology. It is the wunderkind of this decade. Look at the marvelous things that nanotechnology can do for us. Consumer Reports alerted the public to the possibility that our government is approving the use of chemicals that would ordinarily not be harmful until they are reduced to nanoparticles. How long after the rash of illnesses occur, will we figure out it was the nanoparticles that caused it? Better yet, who is watching the ship?
We must enact the Kid-Safe Chemical Act which is presently before Congress. This Act puts the burden of proof on the chemical companies to prove that a chemical is safe before it is allowed on the market. In addition, the Act mandates the following:
- requires that industrial chemicals be safe for infants, kids and other vulnerable groups;
- requires that new chemicals be safety tested before they are sold;
- requires chemical manufacturers to test and prove that the 62,000 chemicals already on the market that have never been tested are safe in order for them to remain in commerce;
- requires EPA to review “priority” chemicals, those which are found in people, on an expedited schedule;
- requires regular biomonitoring to determine what chemicals are in people and in what amounts;
- requires regular updates of health and safety data and provides EPA with clear authority to request additional information and tests;
- provides incentives for manufacturers to further reduce health hazards;
- requires EPA to promote safer alternatives and alternatives to animal testing;
- protects state and local rights; and
- requires that this information be publicly available.” (EWG’s Kid-Safe Act materials)
Due to the nature of this Act, it can easily get bogged down in committee. We can’t wait until the end of your term for this law to pass. We need for a collective effort across party lines to prevent further harm to our children who are so much more susceptible to the effects of chemicals. They are the next generation and our hope to make this world a better place. How will that be possible if they are sick?
Mr. President-elect, please make updating TCSA a priority in this administration so that we all can rest a little better.
A concerned Mom, Sister, Wife, and Daughter
For those readers who want to help push passage of the Kid-Safe Chemical Act, please sign the following petition. Our voices need to be heard.
Kid-Safe Chemical Act, Environmental Working Group, May 2008.
“Nanotechnology, the Untold Promise, Unknown Risk” Consumer Reports, July 2007.
- The Coalition for Chemical Safety, Front for Status Quo Toxic Chemicals
- Urgent! Tell Congress to Pass Pending Safe Chemicals Act
- Safe Chemicals Act Must Pass for Our Children. Get Involved.
- Toxic Chemicals: Say No More. Urge 7/25 Vote for the Safe Chemical Act
- HealthyToys Implements HealthyStuff.org which Tests Your Stuff