‘Babies are coming into this world pre-polluted with toxic chemicals’

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports: In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Ken Cook spoke passionately about 10 Americans who were found to have more than 200 synthetic chemicals in their blood.

The list included flame retardants, lead, stain removers, and pesticides the federal government had banned three decades ago.

“Their chemical exposures did not come from the air they breathed, the water they drank, or the food they ate,” said Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a national advocacy group.

How did he know?

The 10 Americans were newborns. “Babies are coming into this world pre-polluted with toxic chemicals,” he said.

More than 80,000 chemicals are in use today, and most have not been independently tested for safety, regulatory officials say.

Yet we come in contact with many every day – most notably, the bisphenol A in can linings and hard plastics, the flame retardants in couches, the nonstick coatings on cookware, the phthalates in personal care products, and the nonylphenols in detergents, shampoos, and paints.

These five groups of chemicals were selected by Sonya Lunder, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, as ones that people should be aware of and try to avoid.

They were among the first picked in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent effort to assess health risks for 83 of the most worrisome industrial chemicals.

Lunder’s basis was that they are chemicals Americans come in contact with daily. You don’t have to live near a leaking Superfund site to be exposed. They are in many consumer products, albeit often unlabeled.

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have shown that they are detectable in the blood or urine of many of us.

Plus, much data exist showing their harm. “We have an incredible body of evidence for all these chemicals,” she said. “In all cases, we have studies linking human exposure to human health effects.”

Lunder and others see these five as symbolic of the government’s failure to protect us from potential – or actual – toxins.

“A lot of people presume that because you’re buying something on the store shelf … someone has vetted that product to make sure it is safe,” said Sarah Janssen, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, another advocacy group. “Unfortunately, that’s not true.” [Continue reading...]

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