Chemical-by-chemical bans leave people at risk by ProQuest


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									                          Salon                                                                                                                                              CMAJ

                          Chemical-by-chemical bans leave people at risk
                          Previously published at                                                                           tions available, why are we even getting
                                                                                                                                        boxed into the ludicrous discussion of

                                    sk any person on the street what                                                                    how to risk manage the continued use
                                    image comes to mind in                                                                              of these toxic ingredients in consumer
                                    response to the word “pollution”                                                                    products? One exciting new approach is
                          and it’s liable to be a belching smoke-                                                                       to simply get rid of entire applications
                          stack or an idling car. Few would say a                                                                       of chemical families if the uses are friv-
                          familiar overstuffed sofa or a friendly toy                                                                   olous and potentially damaging: the
                          such as a rubber duck. Yet increasingly                                                                       recent Ontario and Quebec (and soon,
                          the most worrisome and damaging pollu-                                                                        we hope, New Brunswick) laws to ban
                          tants affecting the health of Canadians are                                                                   the cosmetic use of pesticides are exam-
                                                                          Fred Sebastian

                          not the odoriferous industrial-grade vari-                                                                    ples of this (and passed, in part, through
                          ety that visibly waft from Canada’s dwin-                                                                     the support of organizations representing
                          dling manufacturing centres (though                                                                           doctors and nurses). The Kid-Safe
                          these remain important), they are the                                                                         Chemical Act is gaining steam in the US
                          invisible toxic ingredients of umpteen                           and his levels of triclosan (a common        Congress and advances the common-
                          consumer products that litter our homes                          antibacterial agent) by a mind-blowing       sense proposition that if a synthetic
                          and offices. Some of these have achieved                         2900 times. Bruce increased his mercury      chemical is detectable in infant cord
                          recent notoriety. For example, bisphenol                         levels by 2.5 times. All of these chemi-     blood (and there are hundreds of them)
                          A (BPA) — a known endocrine disruptor                            cals have been identified as contributing    they should be phased out of production
                          — is a component of polycarbonate plas-                          to serious human health problems.            unless industry can conclusively demon-
                          tic in baby bottles and in the resin linings                         The good news is that governments        strate their safety.
                          of virtually every tin can in every Cana-                        are finally taking action to protect the         The scientific evidence is clear: the
                          dian kitchen cupboard.                                           environment and human health by              toxic chemicals that form the basis of
                              My coauthor Bruce Lourie and I set                           restricting or banning many of these         our modern lifestyle are the root cause
                          out to draw back the curtain on this                             toxic chemicals. In April 2008, Canada       of a considerable amount of human dis-
                          strange world of toxic chemicals in                              became the fi
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