Not long ago my wife and I attended a public lecture at the University of Washington given by Ed Kolodziej, a chemical engineering professor. The subject was the vast amount of man-made chemicals in the environment. We learned that the US produces over 80,000 different chemicals and this number is increasing by thousands annually.
Some of these are pharmaceuticals that are regulated by the FDA. However, the majority of these chemicals are not regulated at all. The perception is that if a product is on the market then it must be safe to use. But that’s a risky assumption. Think DDT, PCBs and BPAs.
Industry is not the only culprit. Fish in Puget Sound have been found to contain Prozac, antibiotics, weed killer and a host of other chemicals we use every day as private individuals.
We are careless with our disposal to some degree, but also our treatment systems simply don’t remove the vast majority of chemicals that enter the sewers. Moreover, most runoff from lawns and streets goes directly into streams, lakes and the Sound, untreated.
We must ask ourselves, do we really need that toxic cleaner, insecticide or weed killer?
Certainly, the EPA is not asking these kinds of questions, that is, not unless harm is observed. While we demand better oversight of the chemical industry, we all should protect ourselves as much as possible by choosing non-toxic alternatives to the many questionable products we use in our daily lives to care for our homes and gardens. The health of ourselves and future generations depend on it.
Rich Hennings, Kirkland