Which Way Forward for Toxics Advocacy?
Maye Thompson, PhD, RN
May 18, 2012
PSR is pleased to welcome Maye Thompson as our Guest Editor this month.
The world we live in -- our air, water, food and consumer products -- is saturated with toxic substances. Given the ubiquity of toxic substances and products, reducing human exposure to toxicants is very hard.
PSR and our many allies in the U.S. toxics movement pursue a variety of strategies to achieve a cleaner, healthier world. These include legislation to ban harmful substances, green chemistry to provide safer alternatives, and market campaigns to insist on safer products. While we have made progress through all of these strategies, we have also encountered obstacles in each one. We can't buy our way out of exposure; there is too much information for the public to process in their purchasing decisions, and not all that information is objective or sound. While some dangerous substances have been banned, too often they have been replaced by substances about which we know little, or that have proven to be toxic themselves. A sweeping initiative at the federal level to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the inadequate regimen which currently regulates chemicals' entry into the marketplace, is bogged down in legislative stagnation. And green chemistry, which shows so much promise, has yet to transform our purchasing habits or the environment in which we live.
As we continue to build possible solutions to our toxic dilemma, PSR is looking forward and asking where we should focus our efforts. With that in mind, we asked six environmental health experts to speculate on these questions:
- What are the most urgent tasks facing toxics advocates today? Where are we likely to make significant progress?
- What are the emerging issues in toxics -- ones that may not have a high profile yet, but are likely to be important in three to five years?
- How should we prioritize our efforts?
We invite you to read our respondents' perspectives -- some shared, some divergent -- and see where you think the future lies.
Strong public policy and market transformations: The one-two punch for toxics reform
By Bobbi Chase Wilding, MS
Educating about the hazards of chemical to children
Philip J. Landrigan, MD MSc
We're going to continue to have a real struggle around chemical issues
Peter Orris, MD, MPH
Which way forward for toxics advocates?
The future of exposure science: New opportunities from new tools
Gina M. Solomon, MD, MPH
A healthy environment: Can we get there from here?
Hopes (and Some Frustration) for Chemicals Policy Reform
Maye Thompson, RN, PhD
The views expressed in these essays are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Physicians for Social Responsibility.