Toxic Double Standards

Reader Contribution by Stephanie Bloyd

Did you know that some companies are removing toxins from their products for distribution in the European Union (E.U.), but selling the original toxic versions to U.S. consumers? Talk about double standards!

A recent Alternet article featured author Mark Schapiro, whose new book Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products, addresses these concerns. For instance, in the Alternet interview, he notes that ‘… there are things that are banned in Europe that are ending up in America, and that includes things like phthalates in children’s toys. And formaldehyde, which you can’t sell in Europe at certain levels, is ending up in American furniture.’ 

Why the double standards? The E.U. passed a new law regulating chemicals, called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) that operates on the precautionary principle. So once a body of negative evidence accumulates around a chemical, the E.U. bans it to prevent future harm, rather than waiting for final ‘confirmed’ proof as tends to happen in the U.S. The E.U. also puts the burden of proof as to a chemical’s safety on the manufacturer, rather than a government entity.

Needless to say, we’re anxiously awaiting our copy of Schapiro’s book here at Mother Earth News.

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