Monday, August 2, 2010

Step Really Far Away From the Box

Today's Washington Post included a follow-up article on the Kellogg cereal recall. If you missed the recall this summer, Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of cereal due to elevated levels of the chemical 2-methylnaphthalene in the packaging.

According to the article, both the FDA and the EPA don't have data on the health impact and safety of 2-methylnaphthalene. In fact, our Government lacks data on over 80,000 chemicals in the U.S. marketplace today. Somehow, and for reasons I cannot fathom, these chemicals are still permitted in consumer products. Basically, everything around us is toxic. And, we wonder why there is an increasing incidence of cancer and childhood diseases like autism? 

This is the most impactful paragraph in the article, "The information gap is hardly new. When the Toxic Substances Control Act was passed in 1976, it exempted from regulation about 62,000 chemicals that were in commercial use -- including 2-methylnaphthalene. In addition, chemicals developed since the law's passage do not have to be tested for safety. Instead, companies are asked to volunteer information on the health effects of their compounds, and the government can decide whether additional tests are needed."

So until Congress catches up with what is in the people's best interests and creates rational legislation, each of us should do two things:

  1. Write your elected officials and tell them how important this issue is to you, and
  2. Avoid as many chemicals as possible

Number one requires a small bit of effort. To find your elected officials in Washington, DC search here. Number two can be an epic undertaking. It would be virtually impossible to eliminate 80,000 chemicals from your environment. However, don't get discouraged and do whatever you can. Some ideas: 
  • don't buy bottled water (filter your tap water instead), 
  • buy organic food, choose whole foods that come in as little packaging as possible, 
  • shop at a local farmers market and avoid all packaging, and 
  • clean your house with natural products
Start with these ideas and keep working at reducing the amount of chemicals in your life, as much as possible. Small efforts can build up and deliver big results. 

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