When Viviane Maraghi took blood tests to find out how many chemical pollutants were in her body, she expected the number to be low. An environmentalist, she carefully monitored what she ate and the household products and items she purchased.
Nevertheless, lead, arsenic, mercury, PCBs, flame retardants, and an array of other chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and neurological diseases were all well represented in her bloodstream. She tested positive for 36 of 68 potentially toxic chemicals, many of which never actually leave the body, but instead continue to accumulate over time in tissues such as fat or bone.
Dangerous chemicals are in the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat and the products you use. Over the last 50 years, from 70,000 to 100,000 different chemicals have been introduced into the world’s markets with about 1,500 new ones added each year. Only now are governments beginning to examine the dangers posed to human health and world ecosystems.
Many western governments are finally initiating new chemical controls as part of the 2006 Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management agreement. Leading the way is the European Union, with a new program called REACH (Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) that requires industry to prove the safety of their chemicals and consumer products before they reach the market.