Protecting Our Bodies from Pollution
There is perhaps no better illustration of the adage that
“what we do to the environment, we do to ourselves” than Environmental Working
Group’s “Body Burden” project. The project brought to light to the fact that every
person living on the planet bears the burden of industrial activities. Shockingly,
scientists have said each person alive carries at least 700 contaminants in their
body, most of them unstudied.
Ivy Main, Virginia Sierra Club vice chair and a
self-professed “ordinary suburban mom”, was shocked to
discover unsafe levels of mercury in her blood when she had tests done 10
years ago. The likely culprit? Coal-fired power plants in her region. Mercury
can cause all kinds of brain development issues in unborn children.
In fact, Environmental Working Group found “an average of 200
industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies
born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals.” Even before they are
born, babies are burdened with the pollution we put in our environment.
Sometimes the dangerous chemicals in our bodies get there
because we allow them into our home, often unknowingly. Over 400 lipsticks and
hair dyes contain
lead. There’s formaldehyde in many shampoos and soaps and
endocrine-disrupting phthalates in many plastics.
In 2012, Environmental Health Fund Board Member Carolyn Fine
Friedman “gave blood (and a few other bodily fluids)” to the Body Burden
project and was
disturbed to discover that her body was riddled with “a toxic soup of
substances known to cause cancer, birth defects, thyroid problems and more —
low perchlorate and PFCs, high phthalates, moderate PBDEs, an immeasurable
amount of triclosan, and high levels of lead, mercury, and methyl mercury”.
It’s likely that your own body contains the very same substances.
Despite the prevalence of toxic chemical exposure, the
federal Toxic Substances Control Act hasn’t been updated since 1976. Many new chemicals
have entered the market and our lives in the past four decades, so this inaction
a serious problem. States are beginning to pick up the slack. In 2013, 26
states are considering legislation to address various kinds of chemical
exposure from BPA in receipts to toxic cleaning products used in schools.
Won't Prevent Cancer Until We Prevent Exposure to Cancer-Causing Chemicals,
Natural Resources Defense Council
Sweet Smell of … Cardiovascular Hazards?, Environmental Defense Fund
Rules Would Give Teeth To TSCA Law, Earthjustice
PVC: The Poison
Plastic, Center for Health, Environment, and Justice