Last month President Obama signed legislation which will overhaul the nation’s archaic, 40-year-old toxic chemical rules. Due to loop holes in the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, there’s at least 64,000 chemicals used today, which have not been tested for safety.
How Soon Will Testing of Toxic Substances Go Into Effect?
In a nutshell, these 64,000 existing chemicals will be subject to safety testing for the first time. Sound like a step forward? Critics say the changes will not happen fast enough. The testing will include 20 chemicals at a time with a deadline of seven years per chemical.
This is far too slow to limit our exposure to toxins found in everything from children’s toys to household cleaners. Even more surprising is that the new legislation doesn’t cover pesticides used in food production.
A coalition of doctors, scientists and health advocates have joined together to launch Project TENDR; Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks. They released a statement today in Environmental Health Perspectives calling for aggressive regulation. Their goal is to protect citizens from neurotoxic chemicals by increasing regulation and testing of toxic chemicals before they are approved for use. They argue “why should we wait until chemicals are deemed unsafe before they are banned.” “Most chemicals in use today were not adequately tested for safety before being allowed on the market,” states Dr. Jeanne Conry, an obstetrician-gynecologist and member of the TENDR coalition.
Their combined research has shown that exposure to toxic chemicals may cause long term damage to the brain, especially during children’s critical development periods and during fetal development.
What Can you Do to Reduce Toxic Chemical Exposure?
- Minimize your pesticide exposure by choosing organic produce when possible. Refer to the 2016 Dirty Dozen List.
- Drink plenty of fresh, clean water to flush your system. If you don’t know what’s in your drinking water check out the EWG Guide to water testing companies in your area. Consider adding a countertop water purifier to ensure fluoride, lead and other contaminants aren’t in your water. These toxic chemicals have been shown to have endocrine disrupting effects in children and elderly.
- Buy furniture without flame retardant chemicals
- When choosing flooring check to make sure it’s phthalate-free vinyl flooring. Choose wood, bamboo or cork as alternatives.
- Avoid any plastics that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which can be a source of phthalates. These include toys, backpacks, lunch boxes, food containers and school supplies. Avoid plastic for storing food and invest in glass containers.
- Choose fragrance-free personal care products to avoid phthalates in fragrances.
- Avoid toxic cleaning products; everything from toilet bowl cleaners to laundry detergent can be loaded with toxic chemicals. Many cleaning products are available without toxins. Consider making your own with vinegar, lemon and baking soda.
- Use nontoxic pesticides in your yard and on pets.
- Screen your house for lead. If your house was built prior to 1978 chances are high that there is lead paint on the walls. If you think you may have had exposure consider taking the Genova Lab Toxic Element Profile test.
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