The new chemical safety law has expanded the authority of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in regulating hazardous chemicals in consumer products. However, given the tens of thousands of chemicals, mostly untested, available on the market it is hard to figure out where the EPA will begin. In line with this, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently released their list of the top 10 high-priority chemicals that the EPA should deal with first.

EWG senior scientist David Andrews said, “It’s important that the agency act promptly to eliminate or reduce Americans’ exposure to industrial compounds linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other health problems.”

These are the 10 chemicals the EWG urges the EPA to review first:

Asbestos: Contrary to popular belief, the US industry continues to import, use, and sell asbestos and asbestos products, including automobile brake pads and clutches, vinyl tile and roofing materials. There is no safe level or duration of exposure to any kind of asbestos according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

PERC: This chemical is usually found in household products such as water repellents, adhesives, and wood cleaners. It is also usually used as dry cleaning fluid. Also known as tetrachlorethylene or perchloroethylene, PERC is included in California’s list of known carcinogens.

Phthalates: They are used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. Phthalates are commonly found in food packaging and plastic household items such as shower curtains. They are hormone disrupters and may cause reproductive problems such as infertility and sperm damage. These chemicals are also linked to changes in the timing of puberty in girls.

Bisphenol A: BPA is a key component of the epoxy coating inside most food cans. Research has linked BPA to cancer, diabetes, reproductive problems, and brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular abnormalities.

Chlorinated phosphate flame retardants: These are usually used as flame retardants in foam cushions, upholstered furniture, and baby products such as car seats. Flame retardants are toxic to nerve cells and can harm the brain development of fetuses, infants, and young children. California also lists TDCIPP and TCEP as carcinogens.

Brominated flame retardants: The chemicals in this group are phthalates used as flame retardants in polyurethane foam in furniture, baby products, gymnastics landing pits and carpet padding. Animal tests have shown developmental harm.

TBBPA and related chemicals: These are commonly used in circuit boards of electronics and in plastic casings for TVs and computers. Research findings showed “aggressive” uterine cancer in lab animals. According to EWG, “California’s state biomonitoring program identifies TBBPA as a concern based on its endocrine toxicity, neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, and bioaccumulation and persistence in the environment.”

1-Bromopropane: 1-BP is used in aerosol cleaners and adhesives, dry cleaning, spot removers, and coin cleaners. The National Toxicology Program classifies 1-BP as reasonably expected to be a human carcinogen. It is also said to cause reproductive harm.

DEHA: This chemical is usually used in food packaging in grocery stores and PVC plastics. It is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen.

P-dichlorobenzene: This is an insecticide used in moth balls. Long-term exposure to this chemical may cause liver and central nervous system damage. The National Toxicology Program classifies it as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.

Thousands of other harmful chemicals are found in popular consumer products. But the above list is a good place to start for the EPA. The new chemical safety law, when implemented properly, can help solve the current problems all of us are dealing with because of exposure to too much toxins.



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