How Safe Are Our Household Products?

cleaning, chemicals, gloves

Most of us assume that the chemicals we use in our homes have been tested by the government and deemed safe. The cleaning products, food packages and even lotions, soaps and shampoo that are purchased commercially, are laden with chemicals, which may be causing us long-term harm.

While pharmaceuticals and pesticides are subject to government testing, industrial chemicals are not.

In a recent article in the New York Times, it brings to light that the Toxic Substances Control Act, adopted in the 1970s is in dire need of an update.

Under the current policy, companies are required to notify the Environmental Protection Agency before it imports or manufactures a new chemical. They are not required to provide any safety data, unless specifically requested by the agency, which needs to show factors for potential risk. If no steps are taken to block the new chemical within 90 days, it is automatically cleared.

As time goes on, we are becoming increasingly aware of chemical substances that are used in many of our day-to-day products. BPAs in the lining of cans and plastic bottles, flame retardant or stain repellant coatings on textiles and nonylphenols in soaps and shampoos, are just a few of the toxins we are exposed to daily. Even infant care staple, Johnson’s baby shampoo came under scrutiny last year, for the carcinogens used to in their product.

Last week, 2 Senators proposed a bill called the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, which would require companies to prove that a chemical is safe, and limit the use of those which are considered “of great concern.”

The bill is backed by 25 Democratic Senators, and supported by environmentalists. It is opposed by the chemical industry, and the Republicans are working on a competing bill that is expected to win the support of the chemical companies.

In the meantime, it is prudent to know what is in the products we use, and to seek alternatives that are safer.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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One Response to “How Safe Are Our Household Products?”

  1. Lucy H. Dorsey Says:

    The chemicals in question are called phthalates , which are used to to make plastics pliable and in personal care products. Phthalates, which are absorbed into the body, are a type of endocrine disruptor — chemicals that affect glands and hormones that regulate many bodily functions. They have raised concerns as possible carcinogens for more than a decade , but attention over their role in obesity is relatively recent.

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