Happy Earth Day, everyone! Toxic chemicals are all over the United States!
As the state of humanity's common home continues to deteriorate, the importance of Earth Day and the activism that surrounds it increases. We refuse to stop pump chemical pollutants into the air, water, and food supply, and even wrapping one's head around how badly damaged the earth has become can be difficult.
That's why reports like the Environmental Defense Fund's "Toxics Across America: Who Makes the Billions of Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Flowing Through the U.S. Economy Each Year" are so important.
The EDF's goal was to catalog the number and location of chemicals identified by the U.S. and European Union as potentially hazardous — with risks including cancer, endocrine disruption, and infertility, among others — in the hopes of "increasing public engagement in supporting public policy and private-sector efforts to reduce the use of and exposure to hazardous chemicals." That's a tall order!
One of the metrics the EDF measured was amount of hazardous chemicals and sites that import or produce the chemicals on a state-by-state basis. Below are the states with the most toxic chemicals:
3. New Jersey
4. New York
Not among the top 10 is California, the nation's most populous state and long a leader in consumer and environmental protection.
So what does this mean for you, the citizen who uses chemical-containing products like paint, plastics and batteries every day? Here's the report's conclusion:
Our analysis has documented that there is substantial U.S. production and use of well over one hundred chemicals identified by government authorities in the U.S. and EU for their potential to cause harm to human health and the environment. Many of these chemicals are produced in very large quantities in the U.S., by many different companies at many sites and in the great majority of U.S. states. In addition, many of these chemicals are present in consumer and commercial products, indicating greater potential for exposure to these chemicals. Even more concerning, some of those chemicals are positively identified to be present in products intended for use by children.
Of additional concern is the extent of information that remains unknown or unreported to EPA and the public, whether due to volume thresholds or reporting exemptions or because EPA only requests information from chemical manufacturers and importers. While this report makes utilizes the information that EPA has been able to collect, our analysis is constrained by the same limitations that apply to the information EPA is able to collect and make available to the public.
Until the government becomes convinced of the necessity of protecting its population's health, it's best to try to use natural products and foods, and to agitate for better regulations and controls on these toxic substances.
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