“Are You a Toxic Waste Disposal Site?” asks noted columnist Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column earlier this month.
The answer? Yes. We all are.
As we teach in our four part WWYW course, over 200 chemicals not naturally occurring in humans have been identified in our blood, including in the umbilical cords of newborn babies.
This means that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, while serving as a wake up call, is really just one story of many. Not only are many additional communities struggling with even higher rates of lead poisoning (mostly from old lead paint still in buildings or in the soil), but thanks to all the other chemicals that have traveled from our environment into our bodies, humans are now born essentially already polluted and at risk for major health problems, from cancer to brain damage to autism to nerve damage. And we now understand that children are by far at the greatest risk. As Kristof points out, “A vast amount of recent research shows that brain development at the beginning of life affects physical and mental health decades later.”
Kristof goes on to discuss the role the chemical companies and the government play in letting the status quo continue, “Chemicals companies, by spending vast sums on lobbying—$100,000 per member of Congress last year—block serious oversight. Almost none of the chemicals in products we use daily have been tested for safety.” Congress has been stalled for years on updating the woefully inadequate Toxic Substances Control Act, passed way back 1976 and still the current law.
Kristof’s column is a clear and concise overview of the problem and we encourage you to read the whole column here.
But Kristoff goes beyond summarizing. He issues a resounding call for what he terms a public health revolution. He compares today’s issues with the London of 1854, when a doctor figured out that a water pump was causing cholera. Despite the water company battling against his assertions, the doctor won and stopped use of the pump, and “this revelation led to the germ theory of disease and to investments in sanitation and clean water. Millions of lives were saved. “
To us, this story serves as a valuable reminder of several truths: Not just the power of one man, not just that we can’t always blindly trust companies and governments, but something that we all occasionally need to be reminded of. Positive change can and does happen.
We’re thrilled to see these issues discussed by such a powerful and persuasive public figure, and join in on his forceful call for a public health revolution that begins with protecting children from harmful chemical exposure.
Recognize this guy? Thanks to our role in the 2017 New American Home, not only we were able to meet with the NAHB Leading Suppliers Council but we got to hang out with the Pink Panther. Best of all, while this company mascot has been around a long time, we’re thrilled to report that his corporate parent, Owens Corning, is staying current with consumer demand to develop and offer products that are not only energy efficient, but also less toxic.
A prime example—the Pro Pink Blown-In Insulation—recommended to us by 2017 New American Home Builder Phil Kean. This insulation boasts great energy efficiency—offering the same R-value as spray foam insulation since it fills all the cracks and crevices in a wall or ceiling cavity without the leaks of traditional batts. But we love that it does so without the toxic chemicals and fumes that spray foam insulation add to the environment. A bonus—it’s recommended for reducing noise transmission. The end result? A quiet, less toxic, and energy efficient home.
We’re back from last week’s NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas! It was a fantastic trip— we saw some truly amazing products that contribute to healthier interiors and met some fabulous people who are now WWYW friends. Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing what we discovered and highlighting some trends and products in future blog posts.