Do you know what “bad actors” are? I’m not talking about your standard B-movie pretty faces. The bad actors I scowl at are disruptive, invasive, persistent, and just downright rude. They are chemicals: byproducts of our energy consumption habits, our synthetic chemical industry, and our intense fondness for cars and plastics. Not all chemicals are bad actors, mind you. Not all chemicals cause cancer, induce genetic changes, interfere with reproduction, disrupt the endocrine system, or accumulate in the body and in fish.
But those that do are known as bad actors. Chemists have been using that phrase for years, and now health groups have picked it up as an apt way to talk about the chemicals that need to be limited or banned, on the double. Bad actors are the toxic chemicals that parents, doctors, and plain old regular citizens like you and me and everyone should be making a big, fat stink about, because they are trespassing into our communities and our bodies and our children’s bodies. Even, sometimes, before they are born.
Yep, kids are born pre-polluted.
Depressing. Demoralizing. Despicable. And totally appropriate for some dark humor, courtesy of the Toxies, a satirical awards show for bad actor chemicals. For two years running, the Toxies – led by the Los Angeles chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) – has highlighted the “achievements” of this troublemaking gang of chemicals with awards such as Lifetime Achievement in Harm (lead), Worst Hair-Raising Performance (formaldehyde), and Super Hot Mess (halogenated flame retardants). [I work for PSR, so I’m especially excited about this project.]
But my personal favorite bad actor from the Toxies is Mercury.
He is one of the baddest of the bad. He won a 2011 Toxie Award for Worst and Longest Running Performance. He accumulates in fish and interferes with fetal development. And do you know where he comes from? Mostly from coal burning power plants. Which is why he’s got his knickers in a twist about the Mercury and Hazardous Air Pollutants rule, currently under consideration by the EPA. This rule would dramatically reduce the amount of mercury coming from coal plants, using readily available technology to limit the largest human source of a known bad actor. He’s begging you to help him stop the EPA.
Let’s let bad-boy Mercury know who’s boss when it comes to our children’s health. Tell the EPA why you support their mercury standard. And join Moms Clean Air Force. We need your voice.