I’ll admit that I don’t use the majority of traditional cleaning products, at least not in my home. I tend to use more natural products and the “make yourself at home” options instead. While I’d like to say I started doing it because I was enlightened and realized how little testing there was of the products on shelves, that isn’t really the truth.
I had to stop using them because they gave me nasty headaches. Everything from perfumes people wear to fabric softeners to floor cleaners and more bother me. I always thought it was just the scents the manufacturers use that was the problem, but the more I learn, the more I realize it’s far more than just the scents that are the problem in far too many household products.
I’m grateful that I stopped using the majority of them, although I know I can always do better. It’s almost impossible to avoid all chemicals, and it’s shocking how few of them have ever been tested for safety. In 1976 – the year after I was born, so you can only imagine what I’ve been exposed to over the years – the Toxic Substances Control Act was passed. This act was designed to protect us from toxic chemicals, but the law requires that the EPA provide a substance poses an “unreasonable risk” to the environment or public health before it can regulate it.
Since the law was passed, 22,000 new chemicals have been introduced, on top of the 62,000 that were already in the marketplace when the law was passed. How many of them do you suppose have been tested for safety? The EPA has required testing on just 200 of them. 200 out of well over 80,000. Comforting, isn’t it? Of those, the EPA has partially regulated just 5. Are you feeling itchy yet?
These chemicals are everywhere from the formaldehyde in most nail polishes to the interiors of our cars to food and beverage containers and oh so much more. Scientists have linked toxic chemicals to many health risks from cancer to birth defects to learning disabilities, asthma, and more. The scientific community is starting to recognize that even low doses of certain chemicals, especially in the womb and during early development, can disturb our hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems, and that multiple chemicals can act together to harm human health.
While I do my best to help the wee ones stay away from chemicals where I can at home, I know they are still exposed to so many chemicals. When you couple that with what they are exposed to at school and more. I can’t stop that, and I can’t even slow it down. Or maybe I can. I can at least have a small impact.
Seventh Generation, a company that has worked for over 25 years to develop toxin-free products that use plant-derived ingredients. They have created a petition encouraging Congress to reevaluate the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time in nearly 40 years to give it teeth to create meaningful reform and ensure that the chemicals we are exposed to truly cause no harm.
On April 30 – just over a week from now – the petition will be delivered to Congress. Their goal was to collect 100,000 signatures, and they’ve already exceeded that by 20 percent. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to do something that can create a safer and healthier future for all of us. I’ve signed it, and I certainly hope you will, too. And share this with your friends so they can learn more and help make a difference. They deserve your help, right?
So visit the petition to add your name. There are 119,653 people who have already stood up to ask for better testing and regulation of chemicals. Will you be the next to stand up for yourself and all the generations to follow you?