17-25 Segment 2: Household Chemicals

RHJ 17-25B FB


We live in a world filled with synthetic chemicals, and Americans are exposed to upwards of 100 chemicals each day. Whether it be in our clothing, our electronics, or the toys our children play with, chemicals are ever-present and not all are safe. According to Ken Guiser, Professor of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and author of Chemicals Without Harm: Policies for a Sustainable World, we are often exposed to dangerous chemicals, although usually only to a very low amount. Yet we are still at risk when those chemicals become present in our homes, schools and workplaces.

It’s a common assumption among consumers that the government regulates and prohibits all dangerous or unusable chemicals, but Guiser says that’s not the case. He explains, “The way our market works, products come on to the market; the government does not test those products. They are maybe tested by product manufacturers, but those test results are often proprietary; we don’t know what they are. We often don’t even know what the chemicals are in products. The government just doesn’t have the capacity or the authority to really test hundreds and hundreds of chemicals.” Due to our free market economy, the government is not able to place many restrictions on companies and businesses, including those that would typically call for product testing. The Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) has introduced measures in the past to limit how many chemicals are leaked into our air and water, but the industry is expected to police itself on the manufacturing of products.

Guiser blames the presence of these unsafe products on a lack of information; no one has really done the research. There are approximately 87,000 chemicals in production in the United States, but of the 2,300 that the EPA conducted research on, only 138 have ever received full testing.

Outside of the United States, the reality is quite different. The European Union has released a list of 2,000 chemicals which they consider to be of concern. Guiser advises that following a European approach would be highly beneficial, and that products supplied to both Europe and the U.S. have become safer due to higher E.U. standards.

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  • Ken Geiser, Emeritus Professor of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and author, Chemicals Without Harm: Policies for a Sustainable World

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Coming Up On Radio Health Journal Show 17-25



“Textalyzers” To Stop Texting While Driving: After 40 years of declining traffic deaths, American roads have become more dangerous the past two years. Police blame texting. Now activists are seeking to put teeth into anti-texting-while-driving laws with the legalization of a device that police can use to instantly determine if a driver was texting at a given time. Experts discuss the “textalyzer,” how it would work, and its pros and cons.

Household Chemicals: The average American is exposed to more than 100 potentially toxic synthetic chemicals every day, and there is little oversight of their safety. A noted expert discusses the vast amount that we don’t know about these chemicals and how tougher regulation in other countries could help keep Americans safer.