I joined the Ecology Center and environmental health movement in 2010, fresh out of graduate school, with a deep enthusiasm for sustainability and healthy living. Never did I imagine how drastically my life would change in the years to come, and how my concern about toxic chemicals in everyday products would take on new meaning. In the award-winning documentary film, The Human Experiment, I share it all -- our years of struggling with infertility, the extremely premature birth of our twins that led to their intense, albeit necessary, exposure to harmful chemicals, and the passing of our son, Micah, when the twins were just 11 months old. The Human Experiment, narrated and executive produced by Sean Penn, features personal stories like mine to expose the real health consequences of ineffective, outdated legislation that fails to adequately regulate toxic chemicals.
Nearly 40 years ago, a national policy was passed that would jeopardize the health of our families and natural resources for decades to come. This policy, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was adopted as law before we really understood how toxic chemicals persist, bioaccumulate and disrupt health. Science evolved, and we began to realize some of the irreversible conditions caused by exposure to toxic industrial chemicals. Despite the evidence, TSCA, the only national policy intended to protect us against chemical hazards, remained unchanged.
Year after year, decade after decade, our children, families, and natural resources have endured unnecessary exposures to chemicals linked to a range of health conditions including cancer, cognitive impairments and reproductive problems. Today, toxic chemicals like flame retardants, formaldehyde, and endocrine disruptors continue to show up in children's products, pet toys, and everyday household items. Every day, as we live, work and play, we ingest, inhale and absorb a cocktail of toxic industrial chemicals.
For decades, public health advocates and environmentalists have been striving to reform TSCA with a comprehensive policy that truly protects our families, communities and natural resources. Unfortunately, the powerful chemical industry, corporations and too many politicians have repeatedly rejected meaningful, strong reform of TSCA.
For nearly 40 years, efforts to reform TSCA, and the disturbing health hazards posed by exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday products, have played out quietly, away from the public sphere; this all changes with the release of The Human Experiment. This feature-length film unveils the shocking reality of every one of us being exposed to toxic chemicals in our everyday products, without our knowledge. Biomonitoring has demonstrated that virtually all of us have toxic industrial chemicals streaming through our blood, urine, breast milk, and stored in our bodies.
The release of The Human Experiment comes at an opportune time, just as relevant legislation is being considered in the House and Senate. Public health and environmental advocates are striving to ensure that the proposed legislation is strong and truly protective of health, yet powerful opposition remains. The Human Experiment, an emotionally compelling and thoroughly researched film, is a game changer for the movement. The film creates an urgent call to action for each of us to become informed and engaged in the efforts to reform TSCA with real and immediate protections from toxic chemicals.
The personal health stories featured in The Human Experiment are stories you already know well. They are the health struggles of your friends, neighbors, and family members. While many diseases and illnesses cannot be attributed to exposure to harmful chemicals, many indeed can. The Human Experiment shares our personal stories to demonstrate why we need stronger policy protections from toxic chemicals now. While we can choose to purchase products made with safer materials, from companies committed to clean and healthy living, we cannot simply shop our way out of this toxic health problem. We need to reform TSCA with legislation that is comprehensive, strong and protective of our most vulnerable communities and natural resources.