We just discovered ToxicyTracker, a promising new blog with a focus on environmental health in Minnesota.  We have added ToxicyTracker to our links and look forward to following its posts.

The latest post is an interview with Dr. Deb Swackhamer, about shaping chemical policy in Minnesota.

Here’s a sample:

In this social media class, I’ve been scanning who out there is talking about chemical policy reform.  It’s a lot of concerned mothers and very involved advocacy groups. How do we get more every day citizens talking about the issue?

It’s a delicate balance because one of the only ways to get people’s attention is to make it relevant to their life.  Moms have kind of done that because of the whole “Oh my god, there’s BPA in baby bottles and teethers.”  So moms got it right away because of their kids.  You can over-alarm people, so it’s a difficult line to walk – to educate people about this issue but not have them walk away totally depressed or freaked out.  Like we do with any communications, we have to be careful how we communicate this.  It has to be at the right level of “This is what we know. This is what we don’t know. This is why we care about this.”

I don’t know why this issue is so hidden.  I have been surprised at how few people would actually say this is an important issue but when you explain it to them, they’re amazed.  I think the vast majority of people really do think, “Well we have the Clean Water Act. We have the Safe Drinking Water Act.  We have the Safe Air Act.  We have all sorts of things. So these chemicals must be at safe levels in the environment.”  I think part of it is that people simply think the government is protecting them.  And I’m not bad-mouthing the government.  We just don’t have the right tools to deal with this avalanche of chemicals.

The other thing is that I talk to people and people will say, “Chemicals – oh, I hated chemistry in high school. I don’t like chemistry.” They turn off at the word “chemistry.” Similarly, I don’t know economics, so when they start to talk about the forecast or hedge funds, I turn off.  So, I think for a lot of society, this is something they’re just not interested in talking about. They can’t pronounce them. They don’t understand them. They hated chemistry in high school. End of story.  So I think there’s a social barrier to getting the point across.