Monday, September 9, 2013

Good News, Bad News, and a Small Way to Help

It was a "good news, bad news" week on the chemical toxicity front. Here's the synopsis.

Good news: The Campaign for SafeCosmetics reports that Procter and Gamble has announced plans to remove the chemicals triclosan and diethyl phthalate (DEP) from their products by 2014. As I remarked in a post about a year ago (when Johnson and Johnson made a similar move), I admit to being a bit of a cynic. I fear the chemicals will be replaced by equally problematic compounds, and I wonder if removing two of the many potentially harmful chemicals in the products will be enough to make much of a difference to public health. Still, it’s a step in the right direction. If nothing else, it’s a sign that manufacturers are realizing that the public is starting to pay attention to toxicity issues. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has been pressuring companies to eliminate phthalates for more than a decade.

Bad news: The Huffington Post reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew two draft rules associated with regulating chemicals. The first would have added certain common chemicals (often found in plastic products and flame retardants) to a list of “chemicals of concern” which are subject to more thorough evaluation. The second would have required companies to disclose the chemicals used in their products and share the health and safety studies associated with them.

Clearly, the fight for freedom from toxins is a long way from over. This week, there’s a small and easy way we can each help the cause. In last week’s postI mentioned the new documentary “Unacceptable Levels.” The film will be screened in Washington, DC on September 19th. If we take the time this week to invite our congressional representatives to attend the showing, it might increase awareness and eventual action.

There are many ways to contact our representatives. The website Contacting the Congress enables users to search for their senators and representatives and then easily access contact forms. Another way is through social media. The filmmakers suggest posting the following to your representatives’ Facebook pages:

Citizens deserve to be protected from unregulated toxic chemicals. I urge you to attend the September 19th DC Premiere of Unacceptable Levels, a documentary film about the industrial chemicals in our bodies, how they got there and what we can do about it. The screening will take place at the Capitol Visitor Center Orientation Theater and is free to the public. RSVP here:

It’s easy to get discouraged by the slow pace of progress, but I do believe that the momentum is on the side of change. 

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