What are unacceptable levels of chemicals in our lives?
2012 research from Colmar Brunton showed that many of us don’t actually know what’s in the products we use every day around our homes and on our bodies, yet at latest count, there are around 80,000 chemicals being used in products today, with 1000 new chemicals developed every year around the world.
Legislation can’t keep up with chemical development and many regulations worldwide are out of date.
- In the US, outdated chemical laws make it extremely difficult to ban or restrict a chemical’s use. Regulators must prove a chemical poses a clear health risk, but the Environmental Protection Agency has sufficient health and safety data for only about 200 of the 80,000 chemicals in use. For example asbestos (a known carcinogen) can still legally be used.
- In New Zealand, triclosan, a widely used antibacterial agent used in soaps, hand washes, toothpaste and cosmetics, has been determined by the Australian National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) as hazardous and should be classified as an irritant to skin, eyes and respiratory system and toxic.
One of the first steps to protecting the health of our families and our homes is to be better informed about safe chemicals and to take a precautionary approach to anything that could be harmful to our health.