(NaturalNews) Pressure on chemical companies from legislators is mounting on the issue of toxic chemicals in hundreds of consumer products. Senator Frank Lautenberg has introduced the Safer Chemicals Act, a bill that would require chemical makers to prove their substances are safe before they are approved for use. Although one might expect this requirement to be the current standard, this is not the case.
HBCD - The newest player in toxic chemicals
In a recent study of best-selling grocery store products, researchers discovered that almost 50 percent of the sampled peanut butter and deli meats, as well as turkey, fish, beef and other fatty foods, contained hints of a flame retardant normally utilized in the foam insulation of building walls.
You're probably wondering how a chemical used in building insulation makes its way onto our grocery shelves. Experts propose that HBCDs (hexabromocyclododecane) make their way into the food chain through the air, water and soil.
Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, suggested "They could migrate out of products into dust and end up in sewage sludge. The chemical may then end up in the marine food supply, or the sewage sludge could get put on fields, where it will inevitably contaminate crops and livestock." Essentially, these chemicals cannot be used in any circumstance without the risk of contaminating food sources.
The specific flame retardant, HBCD, is just the newest in a series of synthetic chemicals that investigators are detecting in popular foods. The EPA reported that the flame retardant is "highly toxic" to marine life and can interfere with the role of human hormones and reproduction. Once in the human body, these fat bonding chemicals will bind to human fat, where they can exist for years.
History repeats itself
Frequency of particular childhood cancers, learning disabilities and reproductive issues are emerging at frightful rates. These flame retardants are very similar to banned PCBs, which have been connected to diseases and health risks including cancer, asthma, lower IQ and diabetes, among others. Studies demonstrate as much as 5 percent of childhood cancers, 10 percent of neurobehavioral conditions and 30 percent of childhood asthma cases are related to unsafe chemicals. It's only commonsense to anticipate certain flame retardants such as HBCDs to have similar health risks. It seems that everything we have learned about PCBs has been neglected and now the same mistakes are being made with flame retardants.
Aggressive industry lobbyists
The companies that produce these dangerous chemicals are determined to keep cashing in on them, while lying about their health impacts and exaggerating their effectiveness. They go as far as setting up bogus "citizen groups" to promote their agenda. They even hired a prominent Seattle physical, Dr. David Heimbach, who traveled from state to state persuading legislators with a made up story about a baby who died because of a lack of flame retardants in her crib.
One of the so called citizen groups, Citizens for Fire Safety, is pushing for laws requiring fire retardants in furniture. The group describes itself as "a coalition of fire professionals, educators, community activists, burn centers, doctors, fire departments and industry leaders." However, a closer look at the Citizens for Fire Safety reveals only three members, which also happen to be the three leading companies that manufacture flame retardants: Albemarle Corporation, ICL Industrial Products and Chemtura Corporation.
Misplaced trust and lack of oversight
Outdated law has required the EPA to verify a mere 200 of the 80,000 chemicals in its inventory. Experts have been trying for years, without success, to get congress to change the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, which currently awaits a Senate vote. State laws are starting to making a make changes on this issue, but federal reform is desperately needed.
Most Americans trust that what they buy in grocery stores has gone through some sort of testing or approval process, verifying its safety for commercial use. It's that misplaced trust that chemical manufacturers rely on. Americans need to take action by telling their senators to support the Safer Chemicals Act and other similar bills that will permanently remove these highly toxic chemicals from our society.