Yesterday I learned that an important Toxic Chemical bill had passed a Senate Committee, a huge step forward, but it won't be come law without bipartisan support--and without more people speaking up for what they believe.
This is how the Chicago Tribune introduced its story about the Safe Chemicals Act: of pregnant American woman carry multiple manmade chemicals in their bodies, sharing that concoction through the umbilical cord. More than 80,000 chemicals permitted for use in the U.S. have never been fully tested for toxicity to humans, let alone children or fetuses."
And this is the account of one woman, Heather Pingree, who is six months pregnant and has learned she has toxic levels of chemicals in her body--even though she lives on a Maine island:
"Heather Pingree, who is six months pregnant with her second child, noted in testimony at Tuesday's Senate hearing that this lifelong exposure is not limited to people living in the big city or downwind from a coal-fired power plant. She has spent most of her life living on an island 12 miles off the coast of Maine, yet a test found her body carried potentially dangerous levels of flame retardants, mercury, phthalates and other toxic chemicals."
"The chemicals in me came from products in my home and the food I eat," said Pingree, former speaker of the Maine House and now a consultant for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a national coalition working to reform toxic chemical regulation."
I grew up in Maine, a place of pristine beauty, and yes, I grew up on the coast, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Later I developed very severe endometriosis which would cause me serious health problems throughout my young adult years, not to mention extreme pain. Endometriosis has been linked to dioxin exposure, and dioxin is one of the most deadly chemicals known to man. Many women with severe endometriosis will never be able to have children and may end up having to have total hysterectomies as well. The cancer risk can go up, there can be immune problems, all kinds of issues, and meanwhile they will have to wonder if they lived near a paper mill, a cement factory, etc. or could it be the dioxin that is in bleached paper, including tampons and even coffee filters?
But wait, it gets better. Maybe you suspect that it is in the food supply when you are told to stay away from meat and perhaps even dairy in a society where everyone tries to be first to get the fork into the steaks and leaves the salad behind. Then you learn after your total hysterectomy and sadness at never being able to have a child that beef and dairy have the highest levels of dioxin in them, according to many reports. Oh, and those incinerators spew dioxin all over the place and...
Or perhaps you are a breast cancer survivor who suspects that chemical exposure led to your breast cancer and the abnormally high breast cancer rate for your region?
Or maybe you are pregnant, have taken every precaution, and you find out you have toxic levels of chemical exposures any way? And you begin to learn about words like BPA, phylates, PCBs, to go along with lead, mercury, cadium, and the other usual suspects. And let's not forget those flame retardants that were in everything, even children's pajamas. What a good idea that was--coating children in toxic chemicals to protect them from flames.
Perhaps you have this worry about the pesticides and insecticides used in the very places where your young children are running across the lawn and where it seems to be running into the nearby rivers, streams, and ocean.
Maybe you just found out that indoor air pollution is 10 times worse than outdoor pollution because of all the chemicals in everything you buy or bring into your home, especially those nice plastic shower curtains, that new carpet, the newly painted walls that will give off high VOC fumes for months or years, the bathroom caulking to fix a leak, and maybe you are having a hard time finding the information you need to protect your family and find safe alternatives. Maybe you long for more research to find low VOC paints that are safe for children and lower the very high asthma rates associated with constant VOC exposure?
Maybe you would like to really know what is in those cleaning products where most of the ingredients aren't listed, even on the supposedly green ones? Maybe you are wondering why that green product seemed to cause your daughter to have a severe asthma attack and spend a week in the hospital or your child vomited and fainted at school after a supposedly safe cleaning product was used?
Perhaps you are one of the millions wondering why MSG, an excitotoxin used to fatten up mice for obesity studies, known to kill brain cells within an hour of consumption, is in nearly all processed and pre-packaged foods, fast foods, and even most restaurant meals? (Look out for natural spices, spices, and other vagaries that can hide a ton of unlisted ingredients.)
Maybe you'd like to see genetically modified foods labeled, especially given the higher risks of allergic reactions?
Maybe you'd like to see more research, major independent research on artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and MSG, both excitotoxins? Perhaps you are wondering if something originating from coal tar or engine cleaners should be in your beverage?
Maybe you don't want to have to get a chemistry degree to figure out what those 58 ingredients are on the back of that food package? And then have to try to figure out if they are safe?
Or perhaps you might even wonder why ingredients to clean jet engines are in your shampoo, your toothpaste, and all kinds of other personal care products?
Or get a bit worried when you look at the side of your toothpaste and realize that flouride could be toxic if swallowed and is actually a very toxic chemical that can yellow teeth? And what about those bleaches that are supposed to whiten them?
And if so many tests show that saccharin can cause cancer, why is saccharin in your toothpaste and everything else?
Maybe you are worried when you hand some experts a glass of brown water out of your tap and experts say it is safe, then they run away from the glass as if it is poison? And you are wondering if this has something to do with that new-fangled operation called FRACKING?
Or the animals seem to be dying where you live? Or be born with all kinds of anormalties, like the fish in the Potomac River of the nation's capitol? Is it okay if we have three eyed fish or twelve-eyed fish like the ones from the "Simpson's Movie?"
Should a mother of a newborn have to spend every waking moment being a detective in finding out why her baby was born with a birth defect known to be associated with a certain kind of chemical exposure? Then have to spend her entire lifetime, before she gets cancer and dies young, trying to get a bill passed so that other children won't be born with the same defects and health issues?
Or maybe you are the parents of children with serious behavior problems and can't help but wonder when you learn that many of these chemicals are suspected to be linked to ADHD, HD, behaviorial problems, and much more?
Right now, the burden of proof is on the EPA. New chemicals are released into our environment every day, and we are part of a big scary experiment. I hope against hope that a new Safe Chemicals Act can be passed this year because it could make such a difference for us all. And the dolphins, too! And the whales! And the polar bears! And the sea turtles! And the fish! And the lobsters and crabs! And the bears! And every other living creature!!
And here is a great resource: