During the past half-century, thousands of chemical substances were developed and put into commerce, including many everyday products, often with little information or consideration about their environmental or health implications.
Because manufacturers bear no responsibility for their products at end of their useful life, there is continuing growth in both the volume and the toxicity of products and packaging. Products are increasingly designed with toxic materials, which pose health threats to workers, wildlife and all of us – either through direct exposure to dangerous chemicals through inhalation or absorption in our homes, schools and office buildings, or by indirect exposure through ingesting or inhaling pollutants which have migrated out of products into the environment and the food chain.
Chemical Pollution Signals Need for Effective Policies
Recent scientific studies show that many of these chemicals are building up in our bodies, in wildlife and in the environment. The results are a growing body of evidence that links exposure to these materials and various adverse health effects, including learning disabilities, reproductive problems and cancer, in humans and in wildlife.
Increasing evidence of harm, a reactive rather than proactive regulation strategy, and a stagnant industry comfortable with the status quo of widespread environmental pollution, demonstrate that our current production systems are broken and in need of reform.
Proven strategies like cradle-to-cradle design, safer chemicals policy and extended producer responsibility will help remedy these problems and ensure that products and packaging are made with safe and sustainable materials.