Legally poisoned: Professor outlines risks of daily exposure to toxicants

Jan 24, 2011

Americans are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of suspected toxic substances every day, substances that affect the development and function of the brain, immune system, reproductive organs or hormones. Children are the most vulnerable. But no public health law requires product testing of most chemical compounds before they enter the marketplace.

That must change, UC Riverside professor Carl Cranor argues in a new book, "Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants" (Harvard University Press, 2011).

The current harm-based or risk-of-harm-based legal structure for regulating exposure to is problematic, says Cranor, a professor of philosophy and longtime advocate of reforming U.S. regulatory policies. "Because most substances are subject to post-market regulation, the existing legal structure results in involuntary experiments on citizens. The bodies of the citizenry are invaded and trespassed on by commercial substances, arguably a moral wrong."

Scientists are finding that every industrial chemical and pesticide produced today is capable of entering our bodies, says Cranor, who has served on science advisory panels for the state of California and on Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences committees. For three decades he has studied U.S. regulatory policy and philosophic issues concerning risks, science and the law, as well as the regulation of carcinogens and developmental toxicants, and protection of susceptible populations from new and existing technologies and toxicants. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and University of California Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program.

Cranor notes that the Centers for Disease Control has identified more than 200 toxicants in the bodies of average Americans, a number that he contends is low only because the CDC has not yet developed protocols to reliably identify other substances.

"The list is only going to grow over time," Cranor says.

With the exception of pharmaceuticals and pesticides, the U.S. legal system permits most substances to come in without testing for toxicity, without knowing whether they cause cancer, birth defects, developmental effects, or reproductive effects. Only about 2 percent of 62,000 substances in commerce before 1979 have been reviewed at all for their toxicity by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he says. Of the approximately 50,000 substances introduced since 1979, about 85 percent were allowed to market with no data concerning health effects.

Industrial, often toxic, chemicals are everywhere – bisphenol A used in plastic bottles and that lines cans of food; non-stick cooking surfaces or Gore-Tex material that contains perfluorinated compounds; curtains, baby car seats and TV sets manufactured with brominated flame-retardants; and countless cosmetic ingredients, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and other compounds, all of which enter our bodies and remain briefly or for years.

Chemical contamination is so prevalent, Cranor says, "that it will make future human studies more difficult; there will be no clean controls against which to compare people who are contaminated. We are all contaminated. It's a question of more or less contamination. So it's going to be increasingly difficult for the science to detect some of these effects in humans, when they exist."

The legal process for identifying adverse health effects and removing the responsible substances from the marketplace is extremely slow, he says.

"The only way to reduce toxic contamination is to require testing of products before they come in to commerce," he says. "If they appear to pose adverse health effects, they should not be permitted, or they should be required to be reformulated so the problems disappear."

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User comments : 9

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BillFox
not rated yet Jan 24, 2011
This sounds good and all, but honestly so often people ignore any warning lable. If only more people took their health into their own hands and decided to be more well informed about what they touch, ingest or clean with. For example, ground beef is washed in amonia to kill the cross-contamination... It's not extra regulation that I feel is needed, but a change in people taking the time and effort to keep themselves informed and using their senses practically.
Bob_B
not rated yet Jan 24, 2011
And they do it to us intentionally - right California? We love MTBE in our water.
Cleanup costs for MTBE-related water contamination could exceed $1 billion a year in California alone. They can't afford it so it won't get done. Mmmmm, more MTBE for us.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Jan 24, 2011
Legally poisoned: Professor outlines risks of daily exposure to toxicants


Oh, you mean like those mercury fillings deceptively labeled "amalgum" which dentists and endodentists are still allowed to pawn off on people as being "silver"?
BillFox
1 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2011
And they do it to us intentionally - right California? We love MTBE in our water.
Cleanup costs for MTBE-related water contamination could exceed $1 billion a year in California alone. They can't afford it so it won't get done. Mmmmm, more MTBE for us.


Those estimates seem high to me, the estimated cleanup of all MTBE is between $1 billion and $30 billion for the entire country, and the chemical was being phased out since 2000 over 4 years. If you ask me, you should be more worried about whether or not your faucet is contaminated with heavy metals in it, and the true ammount of lead, radioactive contaminants, zinc, lithium and other carcogenic, genotoxic and mutagenics in your water. Follow warning labels, they are there for a reason. Test your WATER!

Subtract regulation, add individual responsibility, multiply knowledge and your left with positive change. If nothing else, at least you can stop being blissfully ignorant.
BillFox
1 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2011
Legally poisoned: Professor outlines risks of daily exposure to toxicants


Oh, you mean like those mercury fillings deceptively labeled "amalgum" which dentists and endodentists are still allowed to pawn off on people as being "silver"?


Thank you for proving my point that being informed is the main issue. I guess you're someone who would rather be pampered and never require the use of reasoning. Let the government handle what goes into my body seems to be your viewpoint. Blame yourself for not asking what this perminant metal addition to your body is made of...
ForFreeMinds
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 24, 2011
Why can't we be free of the government doing this and let us buy from who we believe offers the safe and best products. Free enterprise organizations can offer safety info, and there's been the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, Consumer Reports, and many others. Government often acts to benefit special interests at citizens' expense.
geokstr
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 25, 2011
But I'll bet he doesn't even mention the worst poison of all in his book, because like all the other "academics", he's in the pocket of the producers of the deadliest substance known to man - dihydrogen monoxide. It's been documented to kill hundreds of thousands all over the world EVERY YEAR, both through ingestion and inhalation. It pollutes every river, lake and ocean on the planet, and is continuously dumped into our aquifers and water tables in massive quantities by unscrupulous corporations. It's even pervasive in the air we breathe.

Yet there are no regulations preventing this, no government agency oversees or investigates it, and there are never any congressional inquiries into its use, by either party. This is the crime of the millennium, and no one is doing anything to stop it.

Where are the environazis and tree-huggers and the Gaia freaks when we really need them? I despair for our survival as a species because of this monstrous atrocity.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2011
Cranor notes that the Centers for Disease Control has identified more than 200 toxicants in the bodies of average Americans,

How many of these are naturally occurring?

http:/www.chipsbooks.com/naturtox.htm

http:/openlibrary.org/books/OL8260301M/Handbook_of_Naturally_Occurring_Food_Toxicants_(CRC_series_in_nutrition_and_food)
BillFox
2.7 / 5 (3) Jan 26, 2011
But I'll bet he doesn't even mention the worst poison of all in his book, because like all the other "academics", he's in the pocket of the producers of the deadliest substance known to man - dihydrogen monoxide. It's been documented to kill hundreds of thousands all over the world EVERY YEAR, both through ingestion and inhalation. It pollutes every river, lake and ocean on the planet...


Dihydrogen Monoxide is truly scary, even if low concentration levels are inhaled, you may suffocate. Exposure to the chemical causes skin wrinkles through continuous exposure. Vapor form may cause severe burns to your skin. All water is contaminated with this substance, and virtually no country regulates this chemical even though it is present in seriously high concentrations in not only lakes and aquifers, but even after distilling water and even in rain!

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