[Repost] Getting Real About Chemical Risks
Many people assume that the chemicals in their detergents, floor cleaners, and other household products have undergone rigorous safety testing. But little is known about the potential risks associated with most of the estimated 80,000 chemicals in commerce today.
While industry tries to dispel links to illnesses that go beyond what science can prove, the public is skeptical because companies have a financial stake in showing their products are safe. This leads both sides to look to the federal government for help.
The agency charged with overseeing the safety of chemicals in the marketplace is the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA has the authority to require industry to provide extensive toxicity data for pesticides. But for most other chemicals, EPA must show that a substance is likely to be a risk to human health or the environment in order to require industry to provide safety data. Manufacturers don’t often give toxicity data to EPA voluntarily, nor does the agency have the resources to assess tens of thousands of chemicals using traditional in vivo rodent-based studies.
Instead, EPA has turned to computational modeling. One ambitious effort, called ToxCast, aims to screen thousands of chemicals for biological activity using about 600 high-throughput biochemical and cell-based assays. The data are then integrated with existing in vivo animal toxicity data and structure-activity information to predict toxicity.
But ToxCast has had problems. Most of the assays were developed for drug discovery, not to assess the hazards of chemicals in the environment. For example, thyroid-disrupting compounds in the environment can work through multiple pathways, but commercial tests focus on just one—a chemical binding to the thyroid receptor. If a chemical acts on a different pathway it will test negative, even though it does disrupt the thyroid.
Links jobs and hazardous tasks with occupational diseases and their symptoms.
Information on the health effects of common household products under your sink, in the garage, in the bathroom and on the laundry room shelf.
Maps of hazardous chemicals with links to related health resources.
Interactive game for 7-11 years olds with lessons about household chemical hazards.
An interactive guide about how the environment, chemicals and toxic substances affect human health.
Tox Town en español
- Health Hazards in Household Products? Checking Everyday Items for Chemicals (scienceworldreport.com)
- EPA Quietly Withdraws Two Proposed Chemical Safety Rules (huffingtonpost.com)
- EPA Web Tool Expands Access to Scientific, Regulatory Information on Chemicals (workers-compensation.blogspot.com)
- Web tool expands access to scientific, regulatory chemical information (rdmag.com)
- EPA Web Tool Helps Manufacturers Choose Safer Chemicals (environmentalleader.com)
- It’s Not Easy Being Green (cen.acs.org)