In a rare moment of solidarity, it appears politicians, industry executives and environmentalists are working together to make changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The law, which was passed in 1976, has not seen any significant changes until now. According to a recent article in The Guardian, "Republicans and Democrats, along with environmentalists, the chemical industry, consumer product brands and retailers all say that the US needs a regulatory system that will restore consumer confidence in the safety of the products on store shelves."
Restoring consumer confidence is no small task, especially with documentaries such as "The Human Experiment" (now playing on Netflix!) showing us that we could quite possibly be part of the greatest chemical disaster of our time. As one reviewer stated, "We're all just lab rats, subject to endless clinical trials with every move, drink, bite, and breath."
According to the documentary, there are more than 80,000 chemicals available in the US--200 have been tested for safety, and only 5 have been regulated by the EPA. With health issues such as asthma, leukemia in children and ADHD increasing by more than 50 percent over the past 45 years, one could certainly make the argument that there is a connection between all those unregulated chemicals and the decline of our country's overall health and wellness.
For me, this documentary and those statistics hit very close to home. My grandmother was a housekeeper from the West Indies and inhaled toxic cleaning fumes for decades, eventually losing her battle with cancer. My family was convinced that those chemicals made her sick and it was the reason I started an eco-friendly cleaning company. And, it is the reason I am such a strong believer in the "Switch to Safer" campaign, an initiative launched by "The Human Experiment" to encourage consumers to switch to safer products made without toxic chemicals.
Here are 4 ways you can "Switch to Safer" with your household cleaning products:
Read Your Labels: Unfortunately, you don't have to prove a chemical is safe to get it into the market. For all-purpose cleaners, the Switch to Safer site recommends avoiding those that contain diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA). "When these substances come into contact with nitrites they react to form nitrosamines - carcinogens that readily penetrate the skin." In addition do not use cleaners that contain "fragrance" which may have as many as 200 undisclosed chemicals. Checkout the EWG website for more information on decoding product labels.
Carefully Get Rid of Toxic Cleaners: Do not throw toxic chemicals down the drain or in the trash--if they are not safe for your home, they will not be safe for our environment. Visit the Earth911 website for great tips on how to recycle household cleaners--including where you can find local sites that will dispose of them properly. Also check with the Department of Public Works to see if there are specific collection days for your community.
Make Your Own DIY Products: Making your own cleaning supplies ensures you will always know what ingredients are in your products. Stock up on DIY basics such as baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar (click here for easy recipes) and turn your everyday kitchen ingredients into dirt fighting cleaning products.
Hire a Green Cleaning Service: If you don't have time to create your own all-natural cleaning supplies or even read through all those labels in the grocery store aisle, consider hiring an eco-friendly cleaning company. Be sure to ask exactly what cleaning products they will be using and inquire about their overall green practices (i.e. techniques they use to conserve electricity and water). Click here for 5 things you should consider when hiring a green cleaning company.
I encourage you to watch "The Human Experiment" and to take the first step towards "switching to safer", benefiting both people and our environment by choosing to use non-toxic products in your home.
Talk to us: What is your first step toward "switching to safer"?