A toxin is defined as any compound that has a harmful effect on the structure and/or function of cells. We are constantly exposed to toxins: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the personal products (shampoos and cosmetics) and the cleaning supplies we use often contain harmful chemicals. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that there is an end in sight to this toxic assault.
Here are a few disconcerting facts:
- of the 87,000 chemicals registered for commerce in the United States, only one-tenth have been tested at all for any potential health effects.
- only a small percentage of those tested have been evaluated for their impact specifically on reproductive health.
- according to the National Toxicology Program, approximately 2000 new chemicals are introduced into the US market place each year with no requirement that manufacturers (with the exception of a few classes of chemicals) prove that these chemicals are safe.
Even worse is the fact that consumers are left to do their own label research and determine which hazardous chemicals are lurking in their everyday products. Scents can be considered trade secrets and consequently hundreds of ingredients can be lumped together under the heading of “fragrance.” Procter & Gamble recently took a step towards transparency by making public a list of more than 140 chemicals it does not use in any fragrances in its brands. Companies must disclose certain active ingredients, or substances that the government considers “chemicals of known concern,” but they aren’t required to list everything in the product. Consumers surely want to avoid products with a “danger” or “warning” label, but those labels aren’t nearly as widespread as they should be.