Fed Up With Toxic Chemicals? Tell Congress to Support Safety Testing in Consumer Products
By Jamie McConnell
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Two important pieces of legislation to protect women’s health have been introduced in Congress: The Safe Chemicals Act and the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act. Both bills will reduce women’s exposure to toxic chemicals by requiring chemicals to be tested for safety before they are allowed in consumer products like cosmetics and furniture. Passage of these bills cannot come soon enough.
As a woman, I have enough to worry about without fretting that the products I’m buying and using in my home may harm my health. But I do worry, and that’s because I know our current laws are not protecting us from exposure to toxic chemicals. Cosmetic ingredients do not have to be tested for safety; as a result we end up with lead in lipstick, mercury in mascara and formaldehyde in hair straighteners (and that’s only naming a few of the most egregious examples). Similarly, very little safety testing is done of chemicals used in consumer goods–so we end up with BPA in canned food linings and chlorinated tris in mattresses and furniture, to name a few (I could fill up 100 blogs with examples of nasty chemicals in consumer products, but I’ll spare you).
It is so frustrating to me that the burden of finding safer products is put on consumers, when it should be the manufacturer’s responsibility to prove their products are safe. I should be able to go into a store, pick a product off the shelf, and trust that it won’t contain a chemical linked to cancer or birth defects.
What’s more, often times it’s hard to know if toxic chemicals are even in the product in the first place, since many products don’t carry an ingredient label. Recently, my husband and I bought a chair for our living room. When I found out it had polyurethane foam I called the store we bought it from and asked if the foam was treated with flame retardants like chlorinated tris. They had no idea. We returned the chair.
To top it off, safe, non-toxic products often cost considerably more. I know there are sofas and chairs available that are not treated with chlorinated tris, but I can’t afford to shell out the big bucks it often costs to buy a safer alternative. This is not just a health issue, it’s an economic justice issue. Just because folks like me can’t afford a $1,000 chair doesn’t mean that we should have to be exposed to a dose of toxic chemicals. It’s just not right. And by the way, my husband and I are still chair-less.
The Safe Chemicals Act and the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act will help to ensure all products have less toxic chemicals in them. So, if this law passes and I go into a store to buy a chair, I can be rest assured that the chair probably doesn’t have chlorinated tris in it. Or, if I buy a bottle of shampoo or lotion, I’ll have some assurance that they don’t contain ingredients linked to cancer or reproductive harm.
These bills will place the burden on manufacturers to prove the safety of the chemicals they use in their products, and as far as I’m concerned that’s more than fair. If they are the ones profiting from the sales of these goods, they should bear the burden (and yes, cost) of ensuring their products are safe.
I probably don’t need to tell you that laws like this will only pass if you raise your voice and tell your congressional reps to support legislation to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in products. It’s super easy and I promise it doesn’t take long. After all, we have a zillion other things we need to worry about! With your help toxic chemicals in products could be one less thing on the worry list.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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