My son drank from Bisphenol A leaching polycarbonate bottles in 2007 before I had caught on to any health risks, and before BPA was banned from use in baby bottles in Canada in April 2008. It wasn't long before I noticed quiet murmurings of concern among mothers on baby boards, and I switched all of his bottles to glass. I later mentioned BPA to his family doctor on a routine visit and she hadn't even heard of it, let alone its endocrine disrupting potential. Still, I look back at photos of him sucking contentedly from those carefully chosen though insidious anti-colic bottles with regret, and a sense that I failed him.
What is alarming is that I thought I had done my research. I had investigated consumer feedback on web sites before making any of the product purchases intended for my son. It wasn't enough.
Thus began (and so continues) my own search for safer, and it has changed the way that I live and parent, as well as purchase and trust the products that are out there for consumption.
Only 11 percent of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products have been reviewed for safety by the cosmetic industry's own review panel. (Source: Environmental Working Group)
I think that people tend to purchase unconsciously, or at the least assume that if something is on the shelf for sale that it is safe. Certainly someone is policing and ensuring the safety of products in our marketplace, right? The answer is unsettling.
Consider the cosmetics and personal care industry in the United States. According to the Environmental Working Group (a non-profit organization headquartered in the United States), by law the government cannot mandate safety studies of products or their ingredients and only 11 percent of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products have been reviewed for safety by the cosmetic industry's own review panel, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. Put differently, a whopping 89 percent of the ingredients used in personal care products have never been evaluated for safety by CIR.
Feeling secure about the other 11 percent? According to Nancy Chuda (co-founder of the non-profit organization Healthy Child Healthy World) in her appearance on CNN's Toxic Childhood, the model that is used for testing is that of a 155 pound male. This, she said, is absurd if you are talking about the unique vulnerabilities of children and the cumulative amounts of chemicals that they are taking into their system while they are developing.
Additionally, according to the Environmental Working Group, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review approaches each safety assessment as if consumers are exposed to just one chemical at a time, and as if personal care products are the only source of exposure for each chemical considered. People, however, face multiple exposures to multiple products. Consider what you may have been exposed to today, from your mattress, the sheets you slept on, the laundry detergent you used to wash them, your makeup and skin care products that you put on, the shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and shaving cream that you may have used, the dish detergent that cleaned the bowl that you ate out of, the floor cleaner that cleaned the floor that you walked on, and so on.
This isn't just an issue in the United States. Were you aware that Canada has only been screening new chemical substances before allowing manufacture or import since 1994? Prior to this approximately 23,000 chemical substances were already in use in Canada, and they had not been examined to determine if their use posed a risk to human health or the environment.
Canada has only been screening new chemical substances before allowing their manufacture or import since 1994. Prior to this approximately 23,000 chemical substances were already in use in Canada and they had not been examined to determine if their use posed a risk to human health and/or the environment.
The truth is that products used everyday contain chemicals whose effects are not well understood, and that exposures add up. Luckily, so do even small steps towards safer. So inform yourself, and search for safer, as certainly no matter where you live the burden of choosing safer falls squarely on your shoulders.