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US Lags UK in Environmental Toxin Regulations

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 26, 2009 10:11 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Phthalates, Environmental Toxins, Dangerous Products, Plastics, Children's Health, Heavy Metals

The US lags behind the UK in regulating environmental toxins.

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IMAGE SOURCE:  ©iStockphoto/ yellow rubber ducky/ author: cujo 19

 

Mark Schapiro is the author of the new book, “Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power."

Schapiro is the Editorial Director of the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco. He talked to Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman.

The U.S. and United Kingdom have a very different approach to environmental chemicals. While the U.S. has approved about 80,000 chemicals we live with everyday, the European standard is more of a guilty until proven innocent approach, requiring that chemicals be assessed for their potential toxic effects before they are registered for use.

Schapiro says it’s a misconception that someone is testing the safety of everyday products such as cosmetics.  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does look at hair dyes but not nail polish, eye shadow, or shampoos.  Efforts to regulate cosmetics have been beaten back by the industry, he says.

The Environmental Working Group has taken a lead on this issue by creating a checklist of safe and unsafe cosmetics.  And Health Care Without Harm is demanding the FDA be forthcoming about lead found in lipstick.

Schapiro says that the European Union began removing the chemical phthalates from children’s toys, dashboards, and shower curtains about ten years ago.  Phthalates soften plastic and because children suck on soft plastic, the concern is the component reduces testosterone in young male infants and is a powerful endocrine disruptor.

The U.S. Congress banned phthalates in the U.S. a few months ago.

When the European Union began to recognize the potential hazard a decade ago, it sold its inventory in America. 

When heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and chromium were discovered in electronics overseas and banned, the U.S. became a dumping ground for unwanted products.

Recognizing and investing in public health now will show savings in the future in the health of citizens, the book concludes. #


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