Friday, September 3, 2010

Phthalates, Formaldahyde and...Baby Bottles? Oh My.

By Dana Swanson

When someone mentions environmental contamination, some images that readily come to my mind are a hazy cloud of pesticides being sprayed behind a tractor, the stale odor of exhaust billowing behind a car and dark clots of oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico.

Initially, my thoughts are of outdoor pollutants, disrupting ecosystems and plant life. However, there are several sources of environmental contamination much closer than the Gulf coast. Within our homes, a substantial amount of the products we use on a daily basis are laden with toxic chemicals. The prolonged exposure to household chemicals—from bleach to phthalates in lotions— can be detrimental to one’s personal health, as well to the environment.

Proper labeling by the chemical industry helps consumers to make more informed decisions, choosing products that are better for themselves and the environment. Rather than be “consumers” whose main objective is to use without regard to consequence, what if we were to regard ourselves as stewards of the earth? Acting as stewards, perhaps we would be more likely to act with the earth in mind even while peruse the cleaning supplies aisle in the grocery store.

Unfortunately, the chemical industry is not always straight-forward about toxic chemicals, making it challenging to act as a steward. Recently, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families released a viral video mocking the lobbying efforts of the chemical industry. The video depicts household chemicals—led by a menacing, cigar smoking baby bottle—plotting to thwart Congress’ reform efforts. Although a bit wacky, the video is intended to expose the industry’s contradictions and encourage people to tell Congress to vote against toxic chemicals. You can watch the two minute video below.

Supporting legislation that keeps our homes green, as well as our forests, is one of the ways we can each serve as a steward of creation.

Additional resources about Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families efforts to pass federal policies that protect from toxic chemicals can be found at

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