I’m kind of sad this morning. I just learned that yesterday, California’s Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee voted not to add Bisphenol A (BPA) to the state’s list of chemicals that are believed to cause reproductive harm under Prop 65. The board members said that “none of the studies they reviewed offered clear evidence of the chemical’s toll on human health.”
You can read more about BPA, where it’s found, and why we should care in the following Fake Plastic Fish posts:
Bisphenol-A (aka BPA): What is it? Where is it? Why do we care?
I want to know how much harm must be done before the evidence is clear. And why must our children be the guinea pigs for toxic chemicals in the first place? The European Union follows the Precautionary Principle in deciding whether measures should be taken to protect human health. Specifically,
“The precautionary principle may be invoked where urgent measures are needed in the face of a possible danger to human, animal or plant health, or to protect the environment where scientific data do not permit a complete evaluation of the risk.” from Europa Studies of EU Legislation
The United States does not follow this principle. According to Jennifer Taggart in Smart Mama’s Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child’s Toxic Chemical Exposure,
“While TSCA [Toxic Chemicals Control Act] places the burden on the EPA to establish a chemical poses an unreasonable risk before it will control production or use, the European Union (EU) regulates chemicals differently. The EU’s Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) law generally place the burden on the chemical companies to ensure that chemicals do not pose risks to human health or the environment before they are used.”
BEFORE THEY ARE USED! They don’t wait to see if consumers get hurt!
Since we have such lax protection from possibly toxic chemicals in the United States, we are indebted to people like Jennifer Taggart, who also happens to be a member of the Green Moms Carnival and my friend, whose book can help us understand the risks posed by various chemicals and what we can do to avoid them.
I started reading Smart Mama’s Green Guideon BART yesterday and couldn’t put it down. And while I don’t have children myself, I was particularly struck by the next to last chapter of her introduction, which speaks to all of us:
I believe that small changes make a difference. I believe that the small changes add up. I believe that we are all connected to each other and this world. Perhaps because we are connected, it is foolish to think that we can be healthy in an unhealthy world by making individual changes in our lifestyles and improving our individual buying habits. But I believe I should try. I believe that while I don’t make our policies, I can shape them. I believe that by making my home safer for my children, I make the world a little bit safer for every living thing.
Like I said, I just started reading the book yesterday and haven’t gotten very far. I was going to wait and write about it after I’d read the whole thing. But after yesterday’s news, I couldn’t wait. Because this is the kind of information we all need to have to make our own decisions for ourselves and our families. We certainly can’t wait for the government to do it for us.
Disclosure: If you use the Barnes & Noble links above to purchase The Smart Mama’s Green Guide, My Plastic-free Life earns a small percentage.