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Toxic Chemicals: A New Push To Get A Grip

A new big push is on to rewrite federal regulations on the toxic chemicals in our lives. We’ll look at whether it’s a great compromise or a great sellout.

Household cleaners and bug repellent. (chesbayprogram/Flickr)

Household cleaners and bug repellent. (Chesapeake Bay Program/Flickr)

When it comes to toxic chemicals, you might think there’s somebody looking out for you, your health, your basic safety.

You might be wrong.

The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, which governs American chemical regulation, is widely considered a joke.  Out of 85,000 registered chemicals in the US, the federal government has required testing of only 200.  Only five have been banned as dangerous. And we wonder what’s in our environment.

New legislation would update controls.  But is it a real fix?

Up next On Point:  Toxic chemicals in the United States.

– Tom Ashbrook


John Broder, reporter for The New York Times, covering energy and environment, who recently wrote “New Alliance Emerges to Tighten Chemical Rules.” (@jbrodernyt)

Ken Cook, president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group which describes itself as “the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization.” (@EWGPrez)

Richard Denison, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology and its Standing Committee on Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions. He recently wrote, “Why Can’t ACC Tell The Truth About The Safe Chemicals Act?” (@RichardDenison)

Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and blogger for Wired. She is also a journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (@deborahblum)

Show Highlights

From Tom’s Reading List

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families: The Hazardous 100+ List Of Chemicals Of High Concern

Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s Press Release: Senators Lautenberg And Vitter Reach Groundbreaking Agreement To Reform Nation’s Chemical Laws – “Under current law, the EPA can call for safety testing only after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical may be dangerous. As a result, EPA has only been able to require testing for roughly 200 of the more than 84,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances since TSCA was first enacted in 1976. These shortfalls led the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify TSCA as a “high risk” area of the law in 2009.”

The New York Times: New Alliance Emerges to Tighten Chemical Rules – “The act purports to regulate potentially harmful chemicals in industrial and consumer goods, like plastic bottles and children’s pajamas. But the law is better known for its failures than for its successes. Of roughly 85,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States, only 200 have been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency and fewer than a dozen — including polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin and hexavalent chromium — have been restricted.”

Wired: A Chemical (Battle) Cry — ” As it turns out, the country relies on a thirty-five year old law, the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, for oversight of potentially hazardous compounds. And this law is – let’s just say – timid in its approach to regulation. In point, it doesn’t actually require that chemicals be registered or proven safe before they are put to use. There is provision to ban a compound but it must be first be shown as an extremely bad actor.”

American Chemistry Council: TSCA Modernization — “Our nation’s primary chemicals management law must be updated to keep pace with scientific advancements and to ensure that chemical products are safe for intended use — while also encouraging innovation and protecting American jobs.”

Tweets From During The Show

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  • arydberg

    You are touching on a huge scandal here.   While our society moves forward with improvements to cars,  TV’s   and many other things our health continues to decay.    This is worst  in the examples of children’s health with obesity,  autism,  allergies   all increasing.     Where is the FDA in all of this.    What are we eating?    

    • brettearle

      We’re also living longer.

      • nj_v2

        Red-herring alert!

        And how much longer still would we be living without the burden of the toxic crap we carry in our bodies?


        • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

          That’s an impressive argument you are making there.

          • nj_v2

            Compared to your trolling and evasion, just about anything is impressive.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            I just love your Avatar.

        • brettearle

           I agree.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Soylent Green

  • LinRP

    “Are Stricter Regulations Needed?”

    Ya think?

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Millions of gallons of toxic drilling fluid are pumped into each fracked well across the US… Aquifers and air are being poisoned on a scale never dreamt of 30 years ago. People spray chemicals into the air to ‘freshen’ it. Our food supply is adulterated with chemicals. Who has the moral fibre to stand up to powerful industries and stray reigning in these people who are poisoning our air, food and water?

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      Talk about throwing it all against the wall and see what sticks…

      It is nice to see that Markie hasn’t lost his love for John Waters’s cliches.

      • nj_v2

        Talk about dodging the issue.

        What is your solution to protecting people from environmental, industrial toxins?

        • DrewInGeorgia

          Attrition, eventually they’ll die off and quit complaining.

        • Bill_GKD

          The free market as determined by corporate profits.  People will simply choose the products that aren’t toxic, and those products will no longer be offered.  Pay no mind to the fact that the public doesn’t know what sorts toxic chemicals are in products.  That is just a choice that the public has made, and the public should take more personal responsibility.

          • nj_v2

            Yep, that’s the Libertarian Way. 

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Funny how so many disadvantaged folk take advantage of the freedom of living near smokestacks.

          • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

            So I have the right to poison anyone willing to buy or use my yummy product including children, adults and the elderly who are not equipped to evaluate their decisions?

            What kind of dystopia do you want to see America become?

          • nj_v2

            I’m pretty sure that was sarcasm there on the part of Bill.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        Just testing the law of conservation of irony.

        • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

          Irony is not you friend.  

          • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

            Irony is never lost except on those who are the subject of it.

  • madnomad554

    Man has created 80 thousand known chemicals. For those who do not actively reduce their daily exposure to such toxins, you will come in contact with an average of 70 chemicals per day. Some women’s makeup has as many as 20 different chemicals.

    Since this is the age of the internet, it’s not that difficult to find alternatives regarding non-chemical and or non-toxic products. Their really is no excuse. From cleaning solutions to pest control, it’s all there.

    The food part of this is also not that complicated. If you can grow grass (the lawn), then you can grow food. If your going to allow other people to grow your food, then you lose control or have limited control over how it is grown. Organic food may cost more to purchase, but it is far cheaper than a stroke or a coronary or cancer.

    Most of the problems many Americans complain about or are dissatisfied about, can be solved without the help of Washington. In many cases it’s as simple as not purchasing the product or service one is unhappy or complaining about. Stop purchasing the chemical and they will stop making it.    

    • nj_v2

      [[ Stop purchasing the chemical and they will stop making it. ]]

       Only if it were that easy. What chemicals were used to make the computer you typed you message on?

      And how much time would it take someone to research every item they use or purchase to fully understand what was used in its manufacture?

      Individual action is important, but it only goes so far. Systemic and institutional solutions are needed.

      • madnomad554

        As the John Cedar post indicated, it seems impossible to live without chemicals. My original post leaned towards actively reducing, but did not suggest complete elimination. Can we eliminate every peice of plastic? Seems unlikely if not impossible.

        Even too much water will kill a person…drink too much, drowning. The Periodic table of Elements is full of potential death.

        But I like the idea that the space beneath my kitchen sink only has vinegar, baking soda and Simply Green and my house is as clean as anybody’s. Just simple active reduction in chemicals purchased.     

        • nj_v2

          That’s all well and good, but you seemed to have missed my wider point.

          That you use vinegar and baking soda doesn’t protect you from the steady flow of novel, industrial chemicals into the broader environment from other sources.

          Again, individual choices only go so far. Institutional/systemic solutions are needed.

          • madnomad554

            Were probably skinning the same cat, just from different angles. I believe if any product is continually mass consumed, it will continue to be mass produced.

            Imagine if tens of millions more people decided they could clean most of the hard surfaces in their homes with just vinegar and baking soda , then I can’t help but think that some currently mass produced chemicals, would stop being produced.

            Individual choices, multiplied by millions can get it done too. But considering most Americans have no problem eating themselves into poor health, I imagine they will continue to clean themselves into poor health as well.

          • nj_v2

            No, i fundamentally disagree.

            As long as “the market” is allowed to produce things that are toxic (or dangerous), and do so more cheaply than better made things, then only the people who are informed and/or have the financial means to buy the better/safer stuff will do so.

            All the cheaper, toxic crap will still end up with the disadvantaged.

            Look at toxic ag chemicals that have been banned for use in the U.S.

            U.S. companies still make them, sell them to foreign countries with weaker laws, so the people there suffer.

            Solutions need to be system wide. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        good thing we make computers in china

  • margbi

    Are stricter regulations needed? Yes. Will they be enacted? No, not with this do nothing Congress.

  • John Cedar

    Generally speaking, the threat to humans and the environment by chemicals is drastically overstated by religious zealots. One need only look as far as our asbestos and lead paint laws to see special interests team with nonsensical faux science to create a billion dollar abatement industry.

    Even Mother Teresa revealed, although posthumously, that she lost faith from time to time. But unlike the followers of the major established religions, the greenies never question their faith or their doctrine.

    “Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible”

    “The solution to pollution is dilution.”

    • nj_v2

      That’s stunningly ignorant.

      • jefe68

        No, this kind of thinking is dangerous. 

        • nj_v2

          Those two characterizations aren’t mutually exclusive.

          • jefe68

            It’s amazing how some conservative people will rally against anything that smacks of commonsense just because they are under the illusion that it’s tied to more freedom. 

          • nj_v2

            Their hypnotic mantra of “freedom” and “individual rights” makes them incapable of understanding that the individual exists as a component of a complex social web where individual actions have broader consequences.

            No “freedom” is absolute.

          • jefe68

            nor is it really free.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            The easiest way to debunk common sense is to not possess a lick of it.

    • jefe68

      Am I reading you correctly? In your misinformed world the health risks and threat caused by asbestos is overstated? Ever hear of the town of Libby Montana?
      If not look it up. Lead is a known neurotoxin. There is no dilution to lead as it is a cumulative toxin. Which means small amounts of exposure will build up in your body if exposed to the dust. 

      It’s comments like yours that make me wonder about how people can be so utterly and completely blinded by stupidity based on some ideological belief system and not facts. 

      • John Cedar


        I did not say or imply that lead and asbestos are nontoxic.

        What I said is that the threat to humans and the environment
        from their toxicity is overstated and that the laws and abetment rules
        governing those substances are not commensurate with the threat they impose.


        Sunlight is a known toxin, yet thus far no moon suits have
        been mandated…yet.

        Although Obamcare does tax tanning lessons…but not beach

        Prolly ‘cus some races use tanning beds less than
        other races.

    • StilllHere

      I’m sure the responses to your post will be science-free as well.  Some will question your dangerous thinking.  We all know where that leads.

      • jefe68

        What? What a marron.

  • jefe68

    And then there is the Monsanto Protection Act.

    It’s one of the most outrageous special interest provisions in years.
    Written anonymously, the Monsanto Protection Act allows corporations to sell genetically-modified seeds even when federal courts have blocked them from doing so.

    Think about that: We have a process for making sure that genetically-modified seeds aren’t sold, planted and grown until we know that they don’t pose a threat to other crops or to humans.

    The Monsanto Protection Act overrides that process. It lets Monsanto and others ignore a court order designed to protect other farmers, the environment, and human health.

    That’s just wrong.

    And even worse, the Monsanto Protection Act was passed in secret, stuffed quietly into the budget bill that averted a government shutdown.

    That’s why I’ve proposed an amendment to the Farm Bill that would repeal the Monsanto Protection Act. Please join me – and demand a vote in the U.S. Senate that would end this outrageous special interest override of judicial decisions.

    -Senator Jeff Merkley



    • Unterthurn

      And don’t give up!

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      oboma signed that or no?

  • nj_v2

    (edit) Disqus fail

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    Regulators always believe we need more regulation.  Tell me of a time that Federal inspectors were punished for not doing their jobs.  Show me when regulation were written than expanded production and not just drove smaller producers out of business.  I often hear leftists whine that it is the oligarchs are the problem.  Who do you think will write these Byzantine regulations if not special interests they affect?  Buddy, if you want to see who the foot soldier of the oligarchs look in the mirror.

    • jefe68

      So you’re OK with more chemicals in your life.
      Is that your stance? 

      • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

        Yes I am for better living through chemistry.  “Chemicals” is not a bad word.  But some luddites have made a fetish of it

        • jefe68

          Not wanting a lot of chemicals in ones life does not make them a luddite.
          The level of your obtuseness is amazing.

          Some chemicals are good or necessary, most household cleaners are not.They are designed for connivence. 

          Easyoff is one of the nastiest things out there and there is a serious warning on the label proving the point.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            “Not wanting a lot of chemicals…”

            Means you are the luddite of which I was speaking of.

          • jefe68

            No, not wanting any chemicals would make one a luddite. Not wanting some does not. Not wanting to live with a lot of them does not either.

            You argument is not holding up here.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            You really don’t know what the word chemical means do you?  Are you still trying to find phlogiston?

          • jefe68

            I do. I use chemicals all the time.

            Turpentine, OMS, to name a few. 

            I’m well aware of there hazards and take care in the usage of them. 

            I also use some household chemicals, but I’ve cut down on them significantly.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            Of course you use chemicals you could not avoid it. (exasperated snort) Everything is made out of chemicals. But you prefer politics to science and choose to see chemical as a pejorative term. We are very lucky to have all these advances in chemistry that have made modern life safer.

          • jefe68

            please, give it reast already.

          • nj_v2

            [[ "Not wanting a lot of chemicals..."Means you are the luddite of which I was speaking of. ]]

            For someone who writes a blog, you’re pretty damn illiterate.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            Jonah Goldberg writes:

            On Conservative Books
            My review of Kevin Williamson’s The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesomeis on the homepage today. In a nutshell, I write . . . well, actually, I don’t write much in a nutshell because the space is too confining. “Help, I’m in a nutshell! I’ve got deadlines!” (“Really? It’s come to this? You’re ripping off Austin Powers’s schtick now?” — The Couch)
            Anyway, I write:
            Kevin Williamson’s new book is quite possibly the best indictment of the State since Our Enemy, the State appeared some eight decades ago. It is a lovely, brilliant, humane, and remarkably entertaining work.
            Those who know how I feel about Albert Jay Nock, the author of Our Enemy the State, should recognize that this is no small compliment.
            But I can also imagine partisans of, say, Hayek or von Mises reading this and becoming riled up (for some reason, and with no disrespect intended, the moment I wrote that line that scene when the old school orcs and the new-fangled orcs get into a brawl in The Return of the King came to mind).
            First, I should say that Hayek did not consider the State to be his — or our — enemy. He just considered planning folly, socialism immoral, and, oddly, Dick Sargent to be the superior Darrin on Bewitched. Second, both his and von Mises’s work was vastly more influential than Nock’s.
            Anyway, you can read the whole review, and should buy the book (ideally along with someone else’s book, wink-wink).
            What I couldn’t get into in the review was a point about conservative books generally. A book’s importance, fair or not, is heavily dependent not just on what the book says, but when it says it. In fact sometimes the when is more important than the what. Some of the most influential books of the 20th century were hard for some people to distinguish from Shinola — if you know what I mean. The Greening of America was utter and complete nonsense. The Promise of American Life was pretty lousy. But it became a sensation because it gave progressives permission to commit to statism. It had talismanic power in the sense that it let activists point to something physical — like a special badge bequeathed by Stalin or a scepter delivered by Zeus — that said “we’re right!” and “we can do this!” The Greening of America gave mid-life-crisis mediocrities permission to leave their wives, grow ponytails, and proposition women half their age with promises of free weed. Or more generally, it gave people permission to do what they wanted to do anyway.
            Some blockbuster intellectual books were well written, but their success still had a lot to do with the “when” part. Charles Murray’s Losing Ground is a really good book, but his timing mattered enormously. Welfare programs were clearly not having the intended effect, but there were no available empirical arguments against them. You could spout homespun phrases about teaching a man to fish or you could offer categorical imperatives about the State. But what people needed were the numbers to prove that the system failed on its own terms. Murray provided them.
            (I know “neocon” means bagel-snarfing war-mongers to some people these days, but it’s worth remembering that neoconservatism did not begin as a foreign-policy thing. It began as an approach to domestic policy based upon the growing failures of New Deal and Great Society liberalism. As William F. Buckley noted a long time ago, what the neocons brought to the conservative movement was sociology. What he meant by that was that the neocons were social scientists. Conservatives had been rejecting the welfare state for decades before the liberals who became neocons joined the winning side. The neocons didn’t bring new principles, they brought the new math; they had the ability to fight what Burke called the sophisters, economists, and calculators on their own terms).
            When Our Enemy the State came out, Frank Chodorov noted in his preface to the 1946 edition that it was celebrated as a literary accomplishment, not a philosophical one. “The times were not ripe for an acceptance of its predictions, still less for the argument on which these predictions were based. Faith in traditional frontier individualism had not yet been shaken by the course of events.”
            Conversely, when The Road to Serfdom — Friedrich Hayek’s least-analytical work — came out in 1944, the zeitgeist had ripened nicely, thanks to more than a decade of New Deal central planning, World War II rationing, and a greater awareness of the evils of totalitarianism in Germany, Russia, and elsewhere. In short order a slew of books (Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences in 1948, Ludwig Von Mises’ Human Action in 1949, God And Man at Yale in 1951, Eric Voegelin’s The New Science of Politics in 1952, and Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, Leo Strauss’s Natural Right and History, Robert Nisbet’s The Quest For Community, Whittaker Chamber’s Witness (all in 1953) fleshed out or reclaimed the classical liberal or conservative case against collectivism and statism. Not all of them were bestsellers, to be sure. But they all made a splash — because the times were ripe for the message.

            I wonder how many of those books you are familiar with. I would not be surprised that you have read none of them. I also would expect that you are unfamiliar with the works of T. S. Eliot or Voltaire. Generally you have trouble writing about ideas so you resort to insults.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            so follow the directions on the label and don’t  breath it. also you do not have to buy or use it in the first place.

        • northeaster17

          Yes an A.M. radio education thru the EIB Institute of Higher Learning is priceless. Besides what’s the matter with Luddites? 

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        careful jefe i hear dihydrogen monoxide is falling from the sky

    • nj_v2

      The undecipherable sentence aside (Show me when regulation were written than expanded production and not just drove smaller producers out of business.), what, then, is your solution to protect people from industrial, toxic materials?

      • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

        Let me rephrase my question into a statement.  Regulations are written to serve fat cat producers and politicians not consumers or the community at large.  

        • nj_v2

          Okay, i’ll ask for the third time, what’s your solution to protect people from novel, industrial, toxic compounds in the environment?


          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB


          • DrewInGeorgia

            Why ask why is a beer marketing campaign not a rebuttal.

          • nj_v2

            And you wonder why so few people take your whole teabagger thing seriously.

    • northeaster17

      We don’t need no clean water, air or anything else. Just show me the money. Darn liberuls always spoiling a good thing.
      Here’s an idea. Go down to a river near your home. Any river. Now consider what that river looked like say in 1970. Chances are it was half dead before the clean water act took affect.
      Now look at the stream of chemicals running through our lives and no one knows what they do to us or our environment. But we don’t need no regulation. What we don’t know won’t hurt us. Right?

      • DrewInGeorgia

        What we don’t know won’t hurt us, it will kill us.
        Even when we DO know what the damaging results are in advance we still march right along.
        We’re so Civilized.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

        As if “libruls” are really on the right side here. Your elected democratic congresscritters are no more pushing away corporate money than the rethuglicans.

        Government does not exist to protect you.

        • jefe68

          There are 0, zero GOP members of congress who are bringing bills for consumer protection. in this area.
          In states that have majorities of Republicans, Texas comes to mind, they are doing everything to keep regulations off the books. And this includes safety regulations.   

          That’s not the case on the Democrats side of the isle. That said I’m not happy about how special interest has taken over our government. 

    • Trond33

      The U.S. does not need more regulations, it needs smarter regulations and ethical business practices.  The revolving door between creating regulations and industry has to be closed.  Things like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 would never have happened if business saw it as their social responsibility to deploy the most prudent safety measures, not the lowest cost to skirt by regulations.  That is the difference between business in the U.S. and business say in Europe.  The U.S. has a vastly lowered standard of corporate social responsibility.  Companies see their responsibility as only being to their share holders, not to society at large.  Yet, it is society that allows them to remain in business. The U.S. needs a revolution in business thinking, educate businesses about their social responsibilities.  Stop thinking that being sued in a court room will make companies behave in a responsible manner. 

      • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

        Was BP a British company? Doesn’t that disprove your point about European businesses being superior to American businesses?

        • Trond33

          Yes, BP is a British company – and no, it does not disprove my point.  While operating in the U.S., BP and other multi national corporations take advantage of doing business the American way.  The American people and the U.S. government has to work to change how business in conducted in the U.S. 

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            Sorry to bust your bubble but that is not how human nature works.

  • arydberg

    There are worse chemicals then the toxic ones we work with.    They are the ones we eat.    Aspartame the sweetener used in diet soda  may be one of the worst.  

    In addition to thousands of complaints filed with the FDA by people whose health has been affected by aspartame  hundreds more  have put up web pages about the dangers of aspartame.    All this is to no effect.   The FDA seems to have a mandate to ignore them.      

    Many papers have been published about the problems with aspartame but the industry in a effort reminiscent  of the cigarette industry quickly finds flaws and dismisses them.     Meanwhile our government is not able to seperate research between  profit driven  industry and  private research done for the public good.   

    • adks12020

      Umm, did you think that maybe there are so many studies about aspartame simply because we eat it? We know that studies haven’t even been attempted on the thousands of toxic industrial and household chemicals out there. How can you say aspartame is worse when there isn’t even scientific data showing the effects of these other chemicals that are so toxic that we can’t ingest them without dying or being severely harmed?

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        As someone who developed a neurological response to those substances, I don’t need a study to prove that they are bad for me. Go ahead keep drinking that garbage and feeding it to your children because a big corporations claim that it’s safe.

        • adks12020

          Try using a little reading comprehension before you post a snappy, ill informed retort. I never said aspartame was safe and don’t claim that it is. I said there is no way to tell that it’s more dangerous than the thousands of other chemicals that are out there that have never been tested.

          They are all dangerous. That’s the point I was making. Chill out man.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            All decent is meet with abuse.  They believe there should be no stones in the river.  

          • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

            Snappy yes, Ill informed no… been following atrificial sweeteners for over 20 years and not in hokey science forums either.

            Reading comprehension was the root of my response… your contentious stance seemed focused on semantics rather than sentiment of arydberg 9 ‘s original post so I poured a little sarcasm on the fire for the benefit of those who consume these poisons who may be open to giving them up.  

            Worst is arguable. To your point, yes, there are certainly many chemicals out there that are vastly more toxic in concentration, but in the vast quantities that we injest collectively, the toxic side effects of artificial sweeteners on our population may very well be far greater than casual exsposure to toxins in cleansers, glues, paint and plastic; hence the sentiment of this thread’s author is not necessarily that far off the mark.

            We may be in vigourous agreement on toxins in our environment.

      • arydberg

        It’s worse because we eat it.  If  you looked into the history of aspartame you would find out that the FDA disallowed it for 8 years,  Reagan packed the FDA to approve it,   The FDA was so outraged at it’s passing they tried to take the manufacturer to court for lying on the application.   The governments case missed the statute of limitations because the company hired the chief government lawyer away from the case at the  very last minute.    

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I consider anyone’s ability to inform themselves about, and control exposure to, aspartame (one example) much easier than what’s in the air, water and ground.

      And that goes extra for people who live in various “cancer alleys” and brownfields. Also for blue collar workers in situations where being around chemicals in quantity is simply a “condition of employment”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      You can choose not to consume aspartame. The same is not true of exposure to the thousands of chemicals employed throughout you in public spaces. This discussion is precisely about the things you *don’t* have substantive control over. Quit grinding your own axe and stick to the topic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      lol don rumsfeld is why we are subjected to the toxic aspartame

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “We wonder at cancer rates”
    We do? Really?

    200 of 84,000 says everything that need be said.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    So I have to ask the obvious question:
    If we do improve our sorely lacking chemical policing are we going to do anything about the proprietary cocktails we’re pumping into the ground to extract record profits?

    The “I am an Island” tools don’t (and won’t) get it.
    EVERYTHING is connected.

  • creaker

    Chemicals are big money – things like treating cancer are big money. Health only economically benefits the person who’s healthy – so in capitalistic society it’s a pretty low priority.

  • Yar

    My bees are dying, is it chemicals? We have gotten so complex, we don’t know which is the cause and effect anymore. 
    USGS just released new pesticide maps that cover 1992 to 2009 pulled from crop and sales data.  Take a look at the explosion of use in neonicotinoids.  
    Houston we have a problem!http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/pnsp/usage/maps/index.phpTake Imadacloprid  (link below) for example.  Click through the years, it is a real eye opener.  Do this with any number of chemicals and you will wonder if even have a chance to survive.http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/pnsp/usage/maps/show_map.php?year=2009&map=IMIDACLOPRID&hilo=L

    • DrewInGeorgia

      We’re walking talking unintended consequences.
      The same thing has happened with rampant antibiotic and pain medication abuse and misuse.

  • StilllHere

    The panel is toxic to a real discussion.

    • nj_v2

      ^ Troll

    • jefe68

      Grow up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    In the wake of the big Monsanto legal, economic & political coup ( a trifecta of toxicity ) I have reason to believe that any new legislation will be even weaker than the standards we’ve already got.

  • nontoxicissexy

    In the European Union, chemical manufacturers have to substantiate safety of chemicals before they hit the market. Companies are still making great products there, and they are still making a profit. But many of these multinational companies are making a more toxic version of the same products for the US. 

  • viacarrozza

    I check out every product (including cosmetics and sunscreens) on the EWG site.  I don’t use it unless it makes the grade.  We are voting on what we use (and eat).  Environmental contamination is bigger than the individual but we must stop using (and eating) stuff that doesn’t support the environment.  The big chemical (and food) ‘powers-that-be’ depend upon our ignorance.

  • creaker

    When I was young things like asbestos and DDT were “safe”. A little study of the effect of the different chemicals we’re exposed to would not be a bad thing.

    • jpolock

      And the chem companies are trying to re-introduce those chemicals as benign even to this day…

  • Joyisaboynamedmurphy

    our therapy dog, murphy, died of lymphoma at just 6 years of age this month due to our neighbor using pesticides and round up on his lawn and along the edge of our property where Murphy spent time.  We were shocked to hear how many dogs are dying at 6-8 age of lymphoma due to the lawn care companies.  Green lawns with out-weeds should be something you are ashamed to have.  Murphy was scheduled to work with an autistic child the day we had to put him down.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      I am so sorry for all who knew Murphy. Dogs, cats & wild mammals who live near golf courses are also at high risk of chemical contamination. They really pour the poison on extra heavy in those places. It leaches down into the groundwater & can even reach sole-source aquifers. A very dangerous game, indeed.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I know your pain is fresh, but I am wondering out loud if there are studies taken of companion animals the way that they are taken of humans and wild animals.

      When a bird dies of West Nile Virus in my county, we learn about it, for example.

      Should one have questions about their pet’s death and toxic exposure, are there any proceduces in place anywhere to get someone to do the lab work? Is that a “thing” yet in epidemiology for some states?

  • stepheniehendricks

    To add to important reading on this, a statement from the Environmental Health & Justice Alliance on this bill: http://www.louisvillecharter.org/EJHA.TSCA.statement5.22.13.shtml

    If this bill doesn’t protect those who are most suffering from chemicals, and codifies being able to consider people as beiong disposable human beings…

  • Jim

    no change. the chemical industry is protected by conservative legislators in Washington. why? answer: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Just stay safe and say no to plastic and toxic chemicals.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      thats funny i have not heard oboma say too much about it

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarita.khan.90 Sarita Khan

    Take a look at a recent story of what are in multivitamins, even popular cartoon children’s vitamins with GMO’s, arsenic and other chemicals.  No attention is being paid to natural alternatives such as organic nettle tea which has all the vitamins you need to meet your vitamin and mineral requirements and has 3000 years of use behind it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      or cannabis for that matter

  • Sbrin

    I live 20 miles from Boston in the burbs. So many people pour chemicals on their yards, contract with mosquito companies to spray their yards, and spray pesticides inside at the first sign of an ant. You have to be ignorant to think that theses chemicals, designed to  kill living things like weeds and bugs, are benign to humans.

    • anamaria23

      How about chemicals used on golf courses to keep them so pristine?   Would love to know what they use.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    The corporate playbook is no secret. Pretend to regulate for some feel-good effect, then write a bill that gives the corps all they want. Or, simply have their bought legislators cut the budget of the EPA so they couldn’t enforce even a good law. Even better, then you can say “see, I told you gvt can’t do anything right”. How about a “partnership with the private sector” where the corps get to regulate themselves, saving non-existent sequestered dollars? Bah. “ensure that chemical products are safe for intended use — while also encouraging innovation and protecting American jobs” translates in plain English to “no effective regulation.”

    • Trond33

      I agree.  The onus is really on the consumer.  Just like eating healthy, it is a lifestyle change not to buy all these exotic chemicals.  Before buying a chemically ladened product, look into what is more natural and accomplishes the same task.  Such as the drinking fountain as opposed to another plastic bottled water. 

  • creaker

    It’s not just the individual chemicals themselves – imagine the possible interactions between 85,000 different chemicals.

    • jpolock

      Exactly!  Bill Moyers did a PBS special, I think well over a decade ago just on this subject.

      He tested his blood, and found (if I remember correctly) well over 50+ different chemicals in his blood THAT WERE NOT EVEN INVENTED AT THE TIME HE WAS BORN!

      Now, imagine, we’ve gone at least another decade, presumably a great many more chem-cocktails have been developed and put upon us…

      We are one big live experiment in the USA.

      We absolutely need the PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE here in the US, as they have in Europe, Canada etc.

  • Wahoo_wa

    What are the criteria for ranking chemicals?  The woman currently speaking is clearly on a crusade to “beat them down” without even knowing what the “them” is.

  • nontoxicissexy

    We need legislation to ensure everyone is safe- we can’t just shop our way out of this problem or “avoid plastic.” And we need to empower the EPA and FDA to assess and regulate chemicals. BUT- the onus should be on chemical manufacturers to make sure that they are safe for our use in the first place.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      yeah the FDA is doing a bang up job

  • thequietkid10

    Can anyone provide a specific example of a regulation in Canada or Europe that has actually lead to some sort of improvement in the quality of life?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Quality of life improvement?

      The American FreedomFriers corps get in a tizzy when Americans notice that Europeans get treated better by government when government demands it.

      As a media crit, that makes my life better.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    We need to move to a “whitelist” default – what we have now is a “blacklist” default.

  • Elizabeth Brou

    Why aren’t we talking about the chemicals being engineered into the food?  GMO!  There are bills being heard at the state house on June 11 and no one knows what a GMO is!

    • 3ternalist

       News flash! Almost all of your food has been genetically altered via radiation to be bigger, tastier, longer shelf-life. Genetic engineering does pretty much the same thing on a smaller time scale. Too bad we have the internet to spread poor information.

  • Yar

    We could test for lead in children fairly cheaply, simply take their first baby tooth, dissolve it in acid and do an atomic absorption test.  Make the tooth fairy real, test every child.  We don’t want to know what the data will show.  This test could be done for about a dollar per sample if every child was tested though their public school. QR codes and pubic universities, it isn’t that difficult.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      the kids with the lead poisoning stand out already

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “Why can’t we get protection for consumers?”
    Because we first have to make sure we’re safeguarding the producers. A rising profit margin heals all wounds.

  • Elizabeth Brou

    Why aren’t we talking about the chemicals in the food???  GMO??  There are labeling bills being heard in Boston June 11th and next to no one knows what a GMO is.  Can we talk about THAT PLEASE!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    I applaud Tom for getting hot under the collar over this issue. We should all be screaming MAD about it, too!

  • jpolock

    Europe applies a philosophy overall called the precautionary principle.  Which means that any new product must be proven safe BEFORE release.

    Here, without that principle, we do the opposite, whereas new products are fine UNTIL they are proven unsafe.

    So, until someone puts up the money and studies (and the EPA has been totally defanged by business interests) they can just put it out and wait until various diseases, problems arise…way more risky

    And therefore many more people, and the environment, have been poisoned and contaminated here vs. Europe et al.  I think that’s a quality of life difference!

    • Trond33

      Goes a long way toward explaining things such as the US having a higher percentage of allergy sufferers.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      and we cannot even import the safer cosmetics they have there

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB
  • Radical___Moderate

    We have sadly chosen to turn this God-Given world or ours into a cess pool of waste in the name of Greed and wilful ignorance.
    I contracted cancer likely from living near a coke plant that just got fined in court. The fine as of sentencing in July, may be as much as $200 million. However, at this moment, the plant is still operating nonetheless.
    By the way, it took a truly grassroots movement many many years to get just this far with this plant (Tonawanda Coke).
    There was almost NO help form the government at any level until they saw a PR opportunity and the EPA could not or would not enforce its own rules until many years into this company’s abuses. BY THE WAY, THE WORST OF THAT COMPANY’S MANY EMISSIONS IN BENZENE — A KNOWN CARCINOGEN.

    The rates of childhood and adult blood cancers and other disorders for those living near this plant along the once beautiful Niagara River is off the charts.
    PSALM 24:1 says the “The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.” If this is so, then where is our stewardship I ask to any of my fellow Christians?? And don’t speak of “God giving man dominion” because the meaning of that has been twisted by too many Christians….the original implied meaning of the Hebrew word for “dominion” meant responsibility and true stewardship.

    We will continue to pay the dividends of illness if we do nothing. Or are we like the Roman citizenry in the final centuries of that empire who willfully chose political and social disengagement and apathy??
    God Bless

  • eileenab

    Trust the Environmental Working Group. Listen and read their article on their website http://www.ewg.org, “Ten Ways New Chemical Bill Marks a Retreat, because they are truly working for us. Then we can all write to our legislators and demand that they fix the problems.  I have seen before where environmental legislation that would help us was passed but not funded by legislators then chipped away by the chemical industry. 

  • Pete Myers

    The laws in Europe only recently became much stricter, too soon to see impacts on health quality.  The diseases linked to these chemicals can take decades after exposure to manifest

  • TomK_in_Boston

    They do live longer and have lower infant mortality than us. I’ve always assumed that was because of their national health care, but I suppose it could be better regulation, too.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    The use of bottled water astonishes me. In an area like Boston with superb tap water, there is a huge market in bottled water, often of inferior quality, in plastic bottles with gawd knows what poisons leaching out, and then the bottles go into the landfill. Geez! If you want to carry water around, get a safe reusable container, fill it from the tap for free. “Boston MWRA” is better than “Aquafina”! 

    • Trond33

      I was recently happy to see that the water bottles with a built in filter are starting to be seen in stores again.  They have been hard to find for a number of years.  

    • AC

      not only that, it is a huge waste of money!! over a dollar or 2! then my sister whines she’s poor when she buys bottle after bottle, not even finishing it if it’s not cold! drives me batty!!

      (+ my tax dollars for the clean water that is a basic right that they’re not using!!)

    • nj_v2

      [[ "Boston MWRA" is better than "Aquafina"! ]]

      Maybe, maybe not.
      Aquafina’s source is the Detroit public water system. No sh*t. Dasani is tap water, too.

      Smart consumers know that Evain is naive spelled backwards.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        True. It’s a beautiful thing, to bottle free public wtr and sell it. Tho, with the dismantling of the public sector in Detroit, I’m not sure how much I’d trust that particular source.

  • StilllHere

    Good question, but today’s discussion is remarkably free of data.

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    Mr Cook refers to studies of chemical toxicity in which results are “just starting” to be understood. Since this show reveals research has been ongoing since the 1960s, what happened to all those results? We can also be privy to other nations’ findings as well.

    After all, why fund research at all if corporate lawyers can repeatedly effectively defang those findings? Is regulation really nothing more than a lick and a promise? Seems so.

  • Trond33

    Ah, we have over population of the human race anyway.  The problem with these chemicals running rampant in our daily lives is that they are like smoking, they take too long to cull the population!!!  — Sorry, could not help myself.  Still, you would not buy a car knowing that it gave you exposure to a ton of exotic chemicals, yet, we all fill our houses full of cleaning products without a second thought.

    I am always amazed at the power of white vinegar and water.  A great number of household cleaning projects are best tackled with this simple combination.  Want sparkling dishes, drop 1/4 cup white vinegar into the dishwasher when it reaches the rinse cycle.  Don’t waste your money on those expensive products that do not deliver, that 1/4 cup white vinegar will do the job. 

    A great line of products is Biokleen, out of Vancouver, Washington.  Environmentally sound, these products actually do work.  The only green products that I have found to actually do a better job than the chemical industry brands.  

    • Trond33

      Ok, an unabashed product plug, but I have found Biokleen to really work and I have no ties to the company.  From their website:
      “Jim Rimer founded Biokleen in 1989. As a previous sales representative of cleaning chemicals in the commercial and industrial industry he became more and more aware of the dangers of the products he was selling and the ingredients they contained.
      He saw first hand his chemicals were creating health problems for his customers, causing negative effects – including cancer – on families and pets in the homes and businesses where these supplies were being used. Jim was selling poison and this realization shook him to the core. Jim’s drive to take a stand and make a difference helped motivate him to study chemistry. With his newfound knowledge and driven passion he formulated his first cleaner using natural, non-toxic ingredients. Today Biokleen continues to develop and create innovative products, which still measure up to Jim’s beliefs and standards:EffectivenessConcentrationNon-ToxicEnvironmentally Safe”

  • Trond33

    I do know the European population has a lower rate of allergies than the U.S.  I have heard that there is a lower rate of “exotic” or unexplained cancers in Europe, whatever that means.  

  • Duh

    In America the only thing that matters is money.  Money runs our Govt.  Money is the underlying factor in this and every other problem that plagues our Govt and society. 

    GET THE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS – its the only solution to this and every other problem with the Govt.   Public financing – for all elections.
    Outlaw lobbying – make it a lottery and broadcast every meeting on the web.
    Outlaw earmarks – bills must be a singular issue / law / resolution

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      How about a 12,000 word limit on bills.  That would go a long way in enabling transparency.

      • jefe68

        I see your point, but we don’t have parliamentary system. 

        • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

          Nor do we need one.

    • Paducah72

      It’s a shame most Americans are too complacent to do much about anything.

    • Paducah72

      You might like in this organization:


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003013021999 Mac Wooten

     I hv studied many of these chemicals extensively. And yes I used
    paraquat and other organophosphates (and had my private applicators
    Lic) in my peach orchard when I lived in SC.
    Remember DDT?   This was invented by a German scientist trying to
    develop a recipe for mustard gas.  Since that was banned   derivatives
    such as Chlorodane, Dursban and others are continue.  This continuing
    danger in our ecosystems now takes on new interest since living in a
    Developing Country. There are NO REGULATIONS of any kind here (Peru).
    All these restricted or banned pesticides still made in the states as
    well as other developed countries but are banned in the states and
    other countries are sold here….. to anyone and everyone…… who
    among this group of subsistence farmers have little to NO education.
    The store the (subsistence farmer who cant even read) buys from will
    tell him how to mix it. Many of these farmers have as of lately been
    growing flowers for a cash crop. Thank goodness that market has
    somewhat gone down the dumper. The pesticides used on flowers are MUCH
    more toxic because “it’s not a foodstuff”. HOWEVER (remember the part
    about the farmer who has no education?) the farmer when he’s finished
    spraying the flowers, sprays (are ya ready for this) his corn and peas
    and onions and broccoli etc … planted next to the flowers. For them
    Pesticide is Pesticide. Two types of corn here Mais (ears of corn to
    eat) and… the other 85% of the corn planted here planka (leaves and
    stalks) used to feed the cows and cuy. Corn grows better in the rainy
    season here (it’s a little warmer) so they have to use a surfactant to
    make it stick on the plants longer during rainy season. These
    organophosphates stay in the food chain in the meat (beef and cuy) as
    well as all the veggies they consume here  and EXPORT BACK to the US!
    Look at all the veggies in the Produce Section where you shop (Product
    of Peru). I’m in no way telling you “Do Not” buy these products… as
    produce grown elsewhere is grown under the same conditions.  I’m just
    trying to raise awareness.  It’s somewhat impossible to see the rate
    of cancer and other illnesses/complications here as quality medical
    care for this group of citizens is at the bottom of the food chain and
    most everything is first diagnosed as appendicitis?  HA!  However my
    personal conversations with many farmers (who don’t understand the
    dangers and health risks) tell me they have many problems but don’t
    associate them with using these chemicals with no respirators or
    protection of any kind and are told that “It’s safe.”
    Our NGO Teach a Teacher and our other NGO here Perumaculture work with
    Teachers here as well as local farmers and try to educate them about
    these issues and dangers.  The poor quality of Education here affects
    not only the quality of life for people here but ….. finds it’s way
    back to the good ole U S of A as well as other countries!

    OK I’m off my soapbox for a few min.
    I love the program and listen to it streaming live almost every
    morning.   Living in a developing company is challenging at times. We
    grow most of all of our own vegetables 100% organic.

  • nj_v2

    Anyone else vote for the near-useless “Tweets From During the Show” to be moved to the bottom of the page where they can be more easily ignored?

    Just another distraction, along with the less-than-useless pop-up window.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      I move that all tweets be sent the Island of Eternal Nothingness.

  • TJPhoto40

    I appreciate the presentation of this vital topic, but I think too much time was spent just on debating the current bill being proposed, and not enough on specifics such as examples of toxic chemicals that we know are affecting health but are not regulated.  I can understand debating the pros and cons of this bill under consideration, but it leaves many of us still in the dark with regard to the kinds of chemicals that place at most at risk.  With a little more knowledge of that, more people might be inspired to contact their congressional representatives and push hard for better laws to control such chemicals.  And if the EPA was given the mandate to test most of the chemicals, how would that be paid for?  Is there a budget for testing and so on?  With the EPA and other government efforts, our regulatory agencies are either in the pocket of the industries they’re supposed to protect us from or are under-funded in pursuing the data that will allow them to shut down producers who are endangering our health.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    You can reduce your chemical foot print by using lemons, read :

    “45 Uses for lemons that will blow your socks off.”


  • J__o__h__n

    Eight of these twitterings are from On Point.  Please stop posting this garbage so I don’t have to scroll through it to get to the comments. 

  • OnlyOnePlanet

    An excellent book that is said to have launched the modern environmental movement and inspired pushes for bans on harmful chemicals like DDT is Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. She was a marine biologist and published the book in 1962. It’s a very well written book that describes in detail chemicals, their effects on the environment, and the carelessness with which they are used.

  • http://www.kind-eye.com/ Rachel Murray

    What a great podcast. I’ve been worried about the products we put on our face and body for a few years now. I started http://www.kind-eye.com to try to help people find makeup easily, but it’s just a start. So much needs to be done!

  • 3ternalist

    WOW…I work in the chemical regulatory field and the lack of knowledge in this podcast is blowing my mind. They only mention EPA EPA EPA… yet the EPA does not have jurisdiction over most of the chemical hazards considered here, look at the picture for this podcast!..what about OSHA (workers), CPSC (consumers), PHMSA (transport), FDA (food/drug) ?????

    These guests are complete jokes…cannot believe On Point has done such little homework on these “issues.” No one mentions the fact that CPSC and EPA are dragging their feet with global harmonization (GHS).

    Risk of toxicity = hazard * exposure.

    If you think the EPA is going to change consumer products or worker exposure or food safety you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.

    This conversation has no direction and will sadly confuse just about everyone listening. The only common sense is coming from  Deborah Blum – need to prioritize the things that need more regulation.

  • burroak

    Another important topic; curious to discover how much toxic chemicals this country has produced in the last century? And, how much we dispose in our surrounding environment?
    Is the onslaught of new cancers attributed to the many chemicals we consume?

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Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

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On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

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