July 30, 2007

toxins in san francisco bay

I found an article on the Environmental Working Group's website about undesirable chemicals found in the water of San Francisco Bay. It served as a reminder to me about why I am bothering to avoid phalates, bisphenol A and triclosan. All three of these chemicals are hormone disruptors that are unregulated and widely used.

The phalates and bisphenol A can be found leeching from certain plastics (read my earlier post on kid plastics). I knew it was a good idea for my family not to ingest them, if possible. But what this article highlights is how these chemicals are now appearing in our environments. When this happens, wildlife (such as fish) are affected. How these effects will shake-out down the food-chain is still unknown.

Unfortunately, it seems that wastewater treatment does not remove these chemicals from the water. So when the chemicals are used in residential, commercial or industrial areas, they will ultimately end up in the environment. Experts say that it is more realistic and possible to curb the use of the chemicals rather than try to advance the cleansing treatment of the wastewater.

The article states,

"Choices you make at home and on the job to reduce your exposure to hormone disruptors can reduce the impact of these chemicals on wildlife in San Francisco Bay. For example, by making informed choices when you buy everyday products, from shampoo and toothpaste to laundry detergent and even canned food, you can help protect the environment, without breaking the bank. This report provides detailed findings from our study, and presents tips to help you reduce your use of hormone-disrupting chemicals and better protect the Bay."

"Of course, ultimately, we need to fix our system of chemical regulations. The law establishing U.S. regulation of chemicals was created over three decades ago, and has not been revised since, despite significant advances in our understanding of the impacts of a variety of chemicals to ecological and human health. Of particular relevance, U.S. chemical regulations were created before the body of scientific evidence on hormone-disrupting chemicals was established and, therefore, are not designed to identify and act against substances with these properties. In the absence of federal action, local and state leaders have brought special attention to the critical ecological and public health problem of hormone disruption caused by man-made chemicals."

I personally am not optimistic about the goverment fixing these problems in time. I think a much more powerful avenue is by consumers demanding change and putting their money with products and companies who make an effort to offer safe alternatives.

It is a great reminder and reinforcement to know that avoiding these chemicals is not just important to our personal health. It is part of a much bigger picture, from which we can all benefit.

Please read the original article for more information about the study, chemicals found, and what you can do.

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