There are more than 70,000 chemicals in commercial use today. Many of these have not been thoroughly examined for their impact of human health. However, there is scientific evidence to suggest that many of the chemicals currently used in pesticides, cleaning agents, and other types of industrial solvents, as well as those released in the process of chlorine bleaching – called dioxins – contain potentially harmful substances that can impair health. Research also shows that there are disparities in exposure to toxic chemicals along racial/ethnic and socioeconomic lines, stemming from discriminatory policies and practices in our society.
The Amherst Board of Health has prepared a brief summary to educate the public about the potential impact of toxic chemicals on human and environmental health. Please see a PDF of this summary below.
Given the plausible connection between the use of some chemicals and potentially negative health outcomes, it makes sense to take precautionary measures, even if direct cause and effect relationships have not been proven. Without a ban on chemicals that may cause harm, one option includes limiting their use, especially around those populations that are most susceptible, such as pregnant individuals, children and older adults.
Below are links to resources and websites with information for the general public about alternatives to toxic chemicals.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Safer Choice
- Mass OSD - Environmentally Preferable Products and Services Guide
- Mass OSD - Sustainable Purchasing Policies
- Ecology Center, Ann Arbor MI - Purchasing for Safer Cities
- Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) - Transitioning to Safer Chemicals
- World Health Organization (WHO) - Chemical Safety
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATDSR) - Toxic Substances Portal
- Toxic Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell - TURI
- Targeting Environmental Neuro-Development Risks - Project TENDR