THE BLOG

America's Burden

03/17/2015 04:22 pm ET | Updated May 17, 2015
Lise Gagne via Getty Images

America's toxic chemicals have permeated their way into every facet of American life. They are found everywhere, from foods to home products to personal care products--even in toys and baby care products and clothes. Many of these same toxic chemicals allowed in the United States are not allowed in other countries, specifically the European Union. 

Time.com recently published a report titled "Here's the Staggering Healthcare Cost of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals." 

The report stated that

[A] series of papers, just published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, convened expert panels who reviewed laboratory and population-based evidence that certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals--including pesticides, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which are said to interfere with hormones in the human body--contribute to disease and disability. The cost in the European Union, they concluded, is likely €157 billion ($209 billion U.S.) per year, and may be as high as €270 billion ($359 billion) a year.

Since the founding of Less Cancer over a decade ago, we have educated people about safe and healthy alternatives and advocated for their use. We have been on the front lines when it came to helping Americans choose organic over conventional chemical-laden foods. Less Cancer has done this because many of these toxic chemicals are associated with everything from developmental diseases in children to cancer. 

According to the USDA,

Consumer demand for organically produced goods continues to show double-digit growth, providing market incentives for U.S. farmers across a broad range of products. Organic products are now available in nearly 20,000 natural food stores and nearly 3 out of 4 conventional grocery stores. Organic sales account for over 4 percent of total U.S. food sales, according to recent industry statistics." The article continues, "U.S. sales of organic products were an estimated $28.4 billion in 2012 -- over 4 percent of total food sales -- and will reach an estimated $35 billion in 2014, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

Consumers get it. They are no longer willing to accept the staggering health issues their children are facing as a result of harmful chemicals. We are seeing a new food system come into play and good alternatives to harmful cleaning agents and pesticides. 

But it is not enough.

While we are seeing awareness that is turning the marketplace around, we still have so much to do. Today we still  have large-scale pesticide sites at risk of releasing potentially dangerous drift in proximity to schools, exposing children in classrooms and on playgrounds to toxic pesticides. We still have children's clothes, personal care items, food, and toys with chemicals that may be unsafe -- and at a time when pediatric illnesses associated with these exposures are off the charts. 

On the national front, Senators David Vitter and Tom Udall have recently unveiled new chemical safety legislation that should make the chemical companies deliriously happy. According to several reports, the proposed legislation was written by the chemical lobby. While we hope this legislation does not go through, in the meantime we can work to control these chemicals state by state -- another thing, by the way, this new draft of the legislation is attempting to prevent.

The issue with harmful chemicals is now in the hands of consumers: the first thing consumers can do is vote with their pocketbooks by not purchasing goods and food made up of harmful chemicals. The only way to truly know what you are buying is to look for the USDA certified-organic designation. Unfortunately, however, organic products are not always available or affordable. Secondly, all consumers need to reach out to their national lawmakers and tell them not to pass the chemical industry's bill of choice and work to engage state lawmakers to protect consumers in their states. 

The only winners here are the chemical companies; everyone else pays with their health and their wallets. Americans have the choice to fight for their families' health or hand over their children's future to a broken system that will ensure poor health and continue to negatively impact the economy. 

Please read more on this issue at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Environmental Working Group.