It was just three years ago when I was working on the first ban on the toxic chemical, BPA. I was living in Minnesota, working long hours at the state legislature and with the public to educate families about the potential dangers of toxic chemicals. Fast-forward a few years and millions of parents now know about BPA and try to avoid it where possible. The massive public education that is taking place about toxic chemicals in our products gives me hope that we’ll be able to change our flawed system, soon.
I often write about various toxic chemicals that are lurking in our consumer products. Today however, I thought it would be nice to write about some successes we’ve made in the quest to a less toxic future.
Couldn’t we all use some good news from time to time?
The chemical BPA (bisphenol A for the nerdy types) has become a household name; within the last five years most new mothers have learned to be on the look out for labels saying “BPA-free.” BPA is notorious for it’s hormone-disrupting effects including links to breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, insulin resistance and ADHD.
Because of the negative health effects associated with this chemical (and others), consumers started to demand safer products from the marketplace.
Here are some things we can celebrate:
- According to the CDC, levels of BPA have dropped in Americans since 2001
- Eleven states have banned BPA in various kid’s products and food containers. States have taken action on various other toxic chemicals like flame retardants, lead and cadmium.
- A study by the Breast Cancer Fund found that eating fresh vegetables and avoiding food packaging could lower levels of BPA in your body by 60%, in just three days.
- Congress voted on the Safe Chemicals Act this summer, which marked the first vote in over 36 years to update our laws on toxic chemicals.
The road to fully and adequately addressing toxic chemicals is far from over however. We have changed the marketplace in many ways. But our biggest exposure to BPA is likely to be from food cans and thermal receipts (think about the shiny receipts you get at gas stations.)
And even if we take care of BPA, we still have a fundamentally flawed approach to chemical safety. How can we ensure the replacements to BPA are harmless if we don’t have laws to ensure the new chemicals are considered safe for health and the environment?
Here are a few ways to take action on BPA:
- Ask Campbell’s Soup to tell us when they will phase out BPA and what they will replace it with.
- Tell Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, increasing the safety of all chemicals in the marketplace.
- Support a federal ban on BPA in kid’s products.
While we’re waiting for better federal laws, here are some tips to protect your health and continue to move the marketplace:
- Avoid these ten canned foods and try to buy fresh fruits and vegetables when possible.
- Choose safer food containers like glass, stainless steel and ceramic.
- Avoid other hormone-disrupting chemicals in plastic, especially vinyl (or “PVC”), which is likely to contain phthalates. (See my BlogHer post on why we should avoid them.)
- Wash your hands frequently to rinse off various toxic chemicals like BPA, flame-retardants and more.
So as you can see, it’s not all bad news when it comes to toxic chemicals. Because of the power of moms, health and environmental leaders, we have started to disturb the status quo. State legislators will continue to pass laws to protect their citizens in the absence of federal reform. And meanwhile we will continue to work together in a united front towards safer chemicals and healthy families.
To join the movement, sign up here.
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