This is Your Brain on Toxins: How Chemical Companies Are Threatening the Health of Our Children

In a recent NYTimes op-ed, Nicholas Kristof likens the health threat from the chemical industry to the health threat of the lead industry and of the tobacco industry. He identifies several points of similarity:

  • Insidiousness of the threat – chemicals hidden in seemingly innocuous products like cosmetics and household cleaners
  • Enormity of the industry lobby to minimize regulation and defend profits, not consumers
  • Journalists behaving like lapdogs, not watchdogs
  • Scientifcally identified extent of harm these chemicals pose to our health

Just as the lead industry hoodwinked consumers into blind complacency before America finally wised up to its dangers, scores of scientists believe we are living through a similarly dangerous moment, the threat posed this time by endocrine-disruptor chemicals.

These harmful compounds are found in virtually every product – from cosmetics and plastics to toys and some furniture. Yet the fight to eradicate these chemicals has not gained nearly enough traction. Big chemical companies have yet to encounter more than an occasional attack against their harmful practices.

Arguably the most noteworthy counter-attack to the chemical industry took place last year, when the Chicago Tribune exposed the truth on flame retardants in furniture, especially in baby crib mattresses. (They pose a serious threat to our children’s health and don’t actually expel flames. Check out our summary of the major exposé  here.)

Another significant push against chemical companies’ use of endocrine disruptors occurred with the angry-letter writing campaign this summer, in which noted scientific experts participated. Just what got these scientists riled up, and why should it anger you as well?

Bottom line: endocrine-disrupting chemicals could prove as detrimental to health as lead. Developing fetuses and children face particularly troubling risk from these chemicals. Do more than eat organic and avoid plastic water bottles. Fight to change regulation to force an end to the use of these chemicals. (NY Times)