If you're anything like me, you're constantly worried about toxins...in the products we use, the air we breathe, even the furniture we sit on (I watched a horrifying documentary which aired on HBO a few years ago about how flame retardant chemicals in furniture are poisoning us all-- who can avoid furniture??!).
Too many things to keep us all up at night. A person could lose his or her mind worrying about potentially harmful, cancer-causing chemicals hiding in their home's paint, cleaning products, beauty items, food and beverage containers...makes a gal want to hide in a bubble if she thinks too long and hard about dangers such as these.
But we all have to live in the world and accept a certain degree of risk-- that's what life brings, there's no way around it. However, we can choose to minimize risk by at least being mindful of what items we use and how frequently. And it sounds like the government is taking notice, too: for the first time in 40 years, the bill updating the Toxic Substances Control Act is being updated.
The improvements to the Act that are being made mainly revolve around giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the power to demand safety data before certain chemicals are allowed to be sold. But the bill isn't far-reaching enough, critics say.
In the first year, the EPA will be required to review only 10 new chemicals of the tens of thousands that are used in commerce and thought to be a threat to public safety. And in frustrating news, the public may still be exposed to the following toxic chemicals in some way, shape, or form even with the new bill:
Asbestos (still found in some brake pads, vinyl tiles, roofing materials, etc).
Formaldehyde (still found in some cleaning products, wood flooring, paints, varnishes, etc).
PFCs (non-stick, waterproof, grease-resistent chemicals still found in some food packaging, cookware, and outdoor clothing).
Flame retardants (still used in furniture and even children's carseats).
Vinyl chloride (still found in plastics and many household products).
Phthalates (still found in plastics, vinyl flooring, detergents, etc).
BPA (still found in some plastic food and beverage containers).
The bottom line is, we as humans living on earth are going to be exposed to SOME chemicals. Sad, but true. But as consumers, we have to do our part whenever we can by SPEAKING WITH OUR WALLETS. We can send a big message by rejecting products with unsafe chemicals. No, we can't avoid these things at all times. It's not realistic. However, manufacturers and retailers will eventually listen if consumers make enough noise. Let's work together to choose not to buy products that blatantly contain toxic chemicals. Read ingredient lists, avoid plastics when possible, and be your own advocate. These are the ways to make real, lasting changes.
As always, reduce, reuse, recycle, conserve, and be aware of the products you use and consume! Small, everyday changes can make a huge difference.