Toxic Chemicals Again

Beautiful night here in Amsterdam that I managed to get out and enjoy, spending some time with a new friend and catching jazz at ye old bimhuis. As I set out on my bike in the direction of centrum, On Point (one of my favorite podcasts) was on, doing an episode on a topic I often come back to that is highly under-reported, the toxicity of regular things all around us. Plastics, personal care products, even the finish they use on your ikea desk… once you start digging below the surface you’ll find that we’ve been lied to and in many ways slowly poisoned for decades.

Most importantly today I recommend you listen to this episode, especially to the first guest that talks about the inequality between the standards and testing of consumer products in the European Union versus those same products in the US. The fact is the EU has higher standards, to the point that many items that appear on the shelves in the US are not allowed to be sold here due to their links to all sorts of health problems.

I don’t mention this to gloat or even praise the work of EU officials, to me they are doing what should be the standard job and should probably be even more strict as more and more items are manufactured in places where standards are almost non-existant. It should be unacceptable what is going on with things like children’s toys and makeup in the US.. the entire FDA should be investigated, fire whomever is corrupt and unwilling to do their job, and get people in there who can enforce some real standards comparable if not MORE STRICT than the EU.

With all the useless garbage discussed at the so-called presidential debates in the US, how often has this issue come up? It should be right there in the top ten list of issues to grill candidates about and if they have no plans to improve things, boot them out of the running right now.

Lastly here is an excellent website for anyone concerned about consumer products, including my personal pet-peave: children’s toys. It is an excellent resource, bookmark it; use it. Don’t sit back and accept the poison they’re trying to sell you just because it looks nice or the price is right!


  1. DRock
    October 31, 2007

    Well duh – of course we have more dangerous products on our shelves here in the US than in Europe…That’s because we’re more free.

    Fire crackers, fire arms, toxic chemicals, dangerous toys, hell I’m sure you can even buy hand grenades on ebay…apparently our freedom is way too much for you to handle

    We don’t have some faceless unelected government hack telling us our toys are made with lead paint – we are free to find that out ourselves. Kids have too many toys as it is…with the lead paint in them parents now have an additional reason not to buy their whiny kids things.

    Just kidding – I’ll check out the link.

    When I lived in Holland pot, mushrooms and prostitutes were there for the purchase but if you wanted to get aspirin at the supermarket there was a procedure that involved numerous employees and a locked case. Also, my Dutch friend asked me if I could bring bottles of Visine with me to Holland because you needed a prescription for eye drops there. I thought that was weird.

    While I don’t doubt that many EU laws are much stricter on consumer protection there did seem to be some very odd cases.

    Also, keep in mind there is a federal threshold and then states are allowed to increase protections. Many items that I list above (fire arms, fire crackers, chemicals etc.) purchase of them is either illegal or very regulated in many states.

    Like there are car and motorcycle products I have in my garage that say “not for sale in CA”

    • bicyclemark
      November 1, 2007

      Hmm.. I should do some reading into that federal threshold in different states. What kind of products if I may ask? Metals? Cloths? Be careful dude! Me, Im ready to get read of my PVC shower curtain.. which is probably poisoning me.

  2. DRock
    November 1, 2007

    I know little about the specifics but states are generally allowed increase consumer protections beyond the federal level which works as the starting point. Like water quality – there’s the federal limit of nasty stuff allowed in the water but states are allowed to increase the quality of their water. I know certain chemicals, building methods, additives (like trans fat) even plastic bags in supermarkets are band from state to state and even city to city. It’s often difficult for Europeans to conceptualize American federalism and consider amount of autonomy and authority that each state, county and municipality retains in law and regulation making.

    The Washington, D.C. line is 500 yards from my front door in Silver Spring, MD but it might as well be a world away when it comes to effectiveness of local government, school quality, road construction etc.

  3. November 2, 2007

    Aw, shucks! Thanks for the support, Mark.

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