Archives for posts with tag: precautionary principle

You can link to an illuminating podcast interview, titled “Better Living Through Chemistryfrom the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), here.

Here is PSR’s brief description of the interview:

We depend on chemicals in consumer products to perform as expected, and to be safe. But our regulatory system is not adequately protecting us from potential hazards in our food cans, diapers, shower curtains, baby bottles, and other consumer products. Listen to Washington State PSR President, Dr. Steven Gilbert, a toxicologist, together with pediatric urologist and Phsicians for Social Responsibility (“PSR”) board member Dr. Rich Grady, discuss chemicals policy in an illuminating radio interview, touching on “chemical trespass,” the precautionary approach to chemical regulation, and the importance of state-level policy change. They also discuss the federal bills, currently before Congress, intended to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act — including the need to strengthen these bills. The interview was aired on Seattle radio station KEXP on June 19, 2010.

Listen to the interview here (mp3, 10 MB).

Dr. John Peterson Myers is founder, CEO and Chief Scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, where he publishes the well-respected, daily Environmental Health News which aims to advance the publics understanding of environmental health issues by providing access to worldwide news about a variety of subjects related to the health of humans, wildlife and ecosystems.

In this video, Dr. Myers discusses the current problem of toxic chemicals in toys and other children’s products, what parents can do, and what changes are necessary in the regulatory system.


In my recent interview of Drs. Carlos Sonnenschein and Ana Soto, I asked them about how they thought chemicals and the chemical industry should be regulated to better protect human health. Here is the first of two portions of that exchange.

Drs. Sonnenschein and Soto respond to the following prompts:

  1. How would you describe the U.S. system of chemical regulation? 00:40
  2. Please describe the “precautionary principle” used in some other countries. 02:10
  3. What is the biggest difference between our regulatory approach and one based on the precautionary principle? 05:50
  4. Why has the U.S. government not caught up with science and employed the precautionary principle? 06:50
  5. What role is the public playing in this issue? 08:10
  6. Are there are any public actors who are making a difference? 10:15
  7. We have made some progress, right? 11:00

The full, edited interview is now available on the Upstream Website.

From The Globe and Mail:

Canada has become the first jurisdiction in the world to declare the everyday plastic-making compound bisphenol A to be toxic, an action that, while hailed by environmentalists, is shining a spotlight on the major use of the chemical in nearly all food and beverage cans sold in the country.

The federal government on Wednesday formally added BPA, as it is commonly known, to its toxic substances list based on concern about possible risk to fetuses and babies. The man-made chemical has been shown in scientific experiments to mimic the hormone estrogen, and is not naturally found in the environment.

The listing is the final regulatory step by the government after an exhaustive four-year study. Earlier, the review prompted Health Canada to ban the substance from polycarbonate plastic baby bottles and to ask infant food makers to get it out of baby formula packaging.

A Statistics Canada survey earlier this year found that 91 per cent of Canadians had the substance in their bodies.

Critics of the chemical want Canada to extend a BPA ban to all food and beverage cans, and not just those to which babies might be exposed, suggesting that the debate over the safety of the material is unlikely to subside. BPA is applied as an epoxy to can liners to help preserve food, but trace amounts leach from the containers and are ingested.

“The government needs to take the next step and protect the general Canadian population from this chemical,” contends Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, an advocacy group.

He said the finding that traces of the chemical are found in nearly all people in the country is “cause for significant concern.”

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