Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chemical exposure: Where to turn for useful information

I admit, maybe when I read the EPA press release on their new searchable database on chemicals, I was expecting too much:

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it easier to find data about chemicals. EPA is releasing two databases — the Toxicity Forecaster database (ToxCastDB) and a database of chemical exposure studies (ExpoCastDB) — that scientists and the public can use to access chemical toxicity and exposure data. Improved access supports EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities of protecting Americans’ health by assuring the safety of chemicals and expanding the conversation on environmentalism."

After all "technically", they are making it easier to find 'data". Tones of it, in the form of lists and lists of studies. That's fine for a scholar, scientist or someone who enjoys sifting through medical and scientific studies and the accompanying jargon. What about REGULAR people? 

Government bodies continue to miss the point.  All we want to know in plain language is, is there enough data to draw a reasonable conclusion that the chemical is toxic to humans. I know they would say that it's too complicated to give that type of answer; that it depends on how it's used, where it's used how much is used etc., but that's a cop out. There are currently THOUSANDS of chemicals that have been approved for use in products that we use everyday that have not been thoroughly tested for their potential toxicity to humans. Incredible thought isn't it? The truth is that governments and the mainstream media often can't give straight answers due to pressures from industry, powerful lobby groups and fear of legal ramifications. Unfortunately, the process to formally acknowledge that a chemical is likely to be harmful is painfully slow. Consumers are now forced to be more proactive about protecting our own health. 

Below are some examples of great resources that will help to give you some straight talk on chemical exposure, cosmetics, produce, and even indoor air quality. 

This is a fantastic resource. You just enter your product and get a result. I entered my shampoo, Pantene Pro-V 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner. In five seconds I able to see that based on available data, the product had a low to moderate overall hazard rating. I was also able to read in simple language what the high, moderate and low concerns were with the regards to the ingredients and judge for myself whether I felt the risk was worth taking. 

Also from the EWG, this annual guide ranks popular produce. It will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and therefore, which are the most important to buy organic. The EWG says that you can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce. Apples have consistently ranked as the most contaminated year after year. As a result of this guide, my kids have never eaten a non-organic apple. Will it make a significant difference in their lives? Who knows, but it's one small change I can make to reduce our chemical intake.

AllerAir Air Quality Experts Live Chat , Email and Toll Free Phone Line 1-888-852-8247

Now luckily for me this resource happens to be down the hall, but you can have almost equal access by using one of the links above. In my case, I had a stinky basement issue (read about it here). We renovated and soon found the smell of the construction materials unbearable. After consulting an air quality expert, I quickly learned that the smell was likely chemical off-gassing which could potentially continue for years. I was told that a simple HEPA air filter could clean the dust, but not the smell. For that I had to use an air cleaner with activated carbon (like what's in a military gas mask) which can remove airborne chemicals, gases and odors. I now have an AllerAir Air Medic running 24/7 and even my husband, who is the world's premier skeptic, admits the smell and dust are gone. 

For more information on AllerAir, chemical exposure and indoor air quality connect with us:

Start a live chat session with an indoor air quality expert
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E-mail or phone 1-888-852-8247

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