There’s an assumption among Americans that the products we buy must be safe if they’re on store shelves, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. From cleaners to shampoos to clothing to children’s toys, we use chemicals each day that are harmful to our health. Toxic chemicals are harmful to everyone who is exposed, but children are more susceptible to their dangers. Over the course of a typical day, children are exposed to measurable levels of toxic chemicals, including BPA, phthalates, flame retardants, and lead.
As a mother with a background in biology, I read labels, research alternatives, and go to great lengths to avoid exposure. But this can be costly, time-consuming, and disheartening because I can only limit exposure - not eliminate it. We don’t live in a bubble, and there are more than 85,000 chemicals in use in the U.S. with as many as 2,000 new ones added each year. Fewer than 700 are monitored through the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, only 200 have been tested for human safety, and merely five have been banned under the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act. One such substance, asbestos, was reintroduced after its ban was overturned.
I shouldn’t need a PhD in toxicology to keep my daughter safe from toxic chemicals. Real change will require a collective effort. We should demand transparency and disclosure from corporations that don’t list all ingredients on product packaging. We should demand more scientific research and improved government regulation and oversight.
Now is the time for Vermonters to lead the way toward a safer future and pass comprehensive chemical reform that spurs our leaders in Washington to act on federal reform. When it comes to chemical exposure, history tells us that it’s far better to be safe than sorry and when we advocate for governmental and corporate change, we help ensure a safer and healthier future for everyone especially our children.