I was listening to a segment on National Public Radio in which author Mark Shapiro described the thrust of his new book Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products -- Who's at Risk and What's at Stake for American Power.
He said that because the European Union (EU) has tight safety standards on chemicals and plastics, manufacturers in China and elsewhere are selling different products to Europe than they do in the U.S. At this point, no big deal, just good business on an unimaginably large scale?
The EU considers many of the products sold here in the U.S. as unsafe. Are they?
Shapiro said the EU uses a different standard of evaluation than we do. They use a system called a preponderance of evidence where we use scientific fact.
Let me describe the difference: the bird clucks, lays eggs, looks like a chicken, tastes like a chicken and acts like a chicken, therefore the preponderance of evidence says this is a chicken. The EU says it is a chicken.
Here in the U.S. we would have to do a tissue sample and prove with genetic testing that it is a chicken. Our level of proof is much harder to achieve. Our way is more expensive and subject to endless lawsuits that will take many years to resolve. In the meantime Europeans are not being exposed to the chemicals and plastics we are.
Are they healthier? We don't know as there is little evidence that meets scientific scrutiny saying one thing or the other.
According to Shapiro, what is true is that bad chemicals and nasty plastic compounds are showing up in everyone, even Eskimos. These chemicals can be toxic, and many are, while the plastic compounds are causing glandular and hormonal changes on an unimaginably large scale.
What can be done? At this point, any individual action will be like a drop of spit in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
However, some things can be done at home. Buy locally grown food, choosing that which is the shortest distance from the garden, farm or ranch, to your table. Be aware that an "organic" label may not be very meaningful as nobody can control pollen carried from genetically modified plants. Filter your water for drinking and cooking as well as washing your veggies.
Microwaving is probably OK but don't use plastic containers or covering unless it is rated for heat. For babies, avoid soft, squishable plastic toys, pacifiers and anything that can be put in the mouth. The very soft plastics can be the source of nasty plastic compounds that cause glandular and hormonal troubles.
Some toxins can be removed from our bodies with natural supplements but the best bet is to reduce or eliminate exposure, although this is not very likely.
Be more careful in what you buy and, finally, speak up and tell your government representatives you want better than what you have.