This was written by Lindsey Carmichael for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families:
Are any of you frustrated with the extent to which we are all exposed to industrial chemicals found in the everyday products we use in our homes, schools and offices? I am.
As the mother of a child with asthma I am vigilant about minimizing the asthmagens (substances causally linked to asthma) my son is exposed to. Identifying the various products in our home that are possible asthma triggers was not too difficult.
The main culprit seemed to be a handful of conventional cleaning products and finding safer alternatives, even at the grocery store, was easy. However, I still wonder about the impact a lengthy home renovation had on our son when he was an infant. Data suggests renovations in general are implicated in asthma. More specifically, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from conventional indoor paint and drywall have been shown to exacerbate the condition, and a decade ago we hung a lot of new drywall and covered it with gallons of paint. I wish I had known then what I know now.
My efforts on the home front were easy relative to those required to ‘clean up’ the indoor air quality at my son’s school. When I dug into the list of cleaning products used by the janitorial staff at our local elementary school I was shocked by the long list of ingredients known not only to trigger asthma, but also known endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and reproductive toxins.
With the support of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the school administration, and a dedicated team of concerned parents and administrators we were able to eventually replace the toxic products with a line of products that are Green Seal certified and much safer for the students, staff and administration.
The bad news and potential grave health consequences concerning chemicals used in our homes, schools and offices are prevalent and worrisome. Whether it’s BPA in canned food, hormone disrupting fragrances in conventional shampoos, lotions, and laundry detergents, VOC’s from drywall, or the ammonia compounds in cleaning products, it seems as if danger is lurking everywhere. Another example can be found in a report released last week on allergens in fragrances.
We are overdue for some good news on this topic and last summer we got some!
As many of you know, our laws on chemicals in the United States haven’t been updated in 37 years. And sadly for all of us, the existing legislation grandfathered in tens of thousands of chemicals that have never been tested for safety, but continue to be heavily used in commerce. In 2011, Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act - a bill that would require manufacturers to prove a chemical’s safety before it is used in commerce.
Last summer the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted on the legislation and passed it; the legislation is slated to be reintroduced and moved in the Senate in the spring of 2013. This is great news, particularly for our children, who are more vulnerable to chemical exposures than adults.
None of us want our families to be guinea pigs in an experiment we never signed up for, do we? The fact that the Safe Chemicals Act is headed to the Senate floor is fantastic- please help continue the momentum by contacting your representative(s) and asking them to support the legislation when it is up for a vote.