For a disturbing number of marketplace chemicals, the softest descriptors are “unhealthy” and “questionable.” The most austere descriptors are “destructive,” “injurious,” and “calamitous.” With effects ranging from neurodevelopmental disorders to thyroid problems, heart problems, low birth weights, and cancer, the detriments of commonly used chemicals is under-publicized and hopelessly under-regulated, in the interest of corporations that rely on them in the production of goods.
When common plastic-hardening agent BPA (a synthetic estrogen) was linked to a slew of health problems, including endocrine disruption, early puberty, infertility, and even cancer, manufacturers were reamed with lawsuits. A new niche market formed for “BPA-free” products, which were perceived to be safer and healthier, and were marketed accordingly.
In a study by the University of Calgary probing the safety of BPA-replacement chemical BPS, animal embryos were exposed to just trace amounts of BPA and BPS, 1,000-fold less than the accepted levels for human exposure. BPA caused abnormal neurogenesis in the embryos by 180%, while BPS did so at a skyrocketed rate of 240%. Both BPA and BPS are different types of bisphenol. Replacing one known toxin with its chemical cousin did not eradicate the problem, and might well be called a lazy fix. A different BPA/BPS study conducted by UCLA produced similar findings, determining the two are very much on par with one another regarding negative health impact. While the replacement of BPA was well-intended, these findings certainly suggest its replacement was inadequately tested, rushed into the marketplace, and ultimately worse than its predecessor. An “evil twin” if you will.
Companies that produce “organic” products walk an even thinner tightrope. Health-conscious consumers keep a hawklike eye on any infractions. Jessica Alba’s enterprise The Honest Company said to be made with zero health-compromising chemicals, has been hit with a number of lawsuits alleging that it has failed in that pursuit.
Both BPA and BPS remain on the market, creating a conundrum for the informed consumer. Products not marked as BPA-free are bad, products marked as BPA-free are worse. Products marked as free of both may contain chemicals that haven’t received proper scrutiny prior to their entry on the marketplace. Is the consumer then sentenced to a proverbial game of Russian Roulette and finger crossing? Are we all condemned to a cycle: ‘dubious product —> tardy scientific concerns —> corporate “Whoops!” —> ocean of lawsuits —> dubious product reformulation?’ Does the regulation system not owe the people more?
The BPA/BPS debacle serves to underline a far deeper problem within the US regulatory system – sluggish arrival of critical findings. The Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act made a feeble attempt to address the problem of the 64,000 marketplace chemicals that had not previously been subject to testing or regulation. The act requires that all 64,000 chemicals undergo testing by the Environment Protection Agency… with 7 years allotted per chemical. They are tested 20 at a time.
Until there is more stringent — and timely-mannered — regulation of carcinogenic, disorder-causing chemicals in the marketplace, lawsuits will only continue to crop up across the country from the failed, aggrieved consumer.
If you or someone you love has been harmed by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work hard to get you the money you deserve to recover. Contact them online, or call their office today at (800) 529-6162. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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