Springboard

Some chemicals have a small enough impact on a person’s health that it’s hard to see their effects if you look only at the individual. But if you add up all of the individual health impacts in the population, you end up with a considerable negative impact on public health.

Protect your family from everyday chemicals with Silent Spring's Detox Me app.

Back to school time often means back to the store to stock up on new clothing and school gear. It’s also a great time to think about making some changes in your daily routine to ensure your kids stay safe and healthy. Everyday items, from backpacks to lunches, can contain a wide variety of chemicals. Some of these have been found to interfere with development and fertility, or have been linked with other health effects including allergies, asthma, and cancer.

Later this summer, members of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Blue Ribbon Panel will submit a series of recommendations for what to fund under Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative—a one-billion-dollar effort to accelerate the rate of progress in cancer research. Some of the ideas being pursued include new ways of addressing pediatric cancer, improving access to clinical trials, and enhancing data sharing among investigators. These are important and worthy goals.

After years of wrangling and backroom negotiations, Congress finally passed legislation overhauling the nation’s outdated chemical safety law known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The new legislation strengthens the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate thousands of industrial chemicals in use today and could have far-reaching impacts on a wide range of consumer products, from your household cleaner to your living room couch.

Four years ago, when I first started to look into the use of flame retardant chemicals in Massachusetts, little did I know I’d soon be elbow-deep in fire codes, deciphering their meaning. But as our recent victory in Boston showed, translating science into policies that protect health requires identifying the barriers to change. And sometimes those barriers can be tucked away in obscure regulations, codes, and standards.

Since the lead poisoning tragedy unfolded in Flint, Mich., numerous reports of tainted tap water in other communities have emerged, sparking outcry and shattering people’s confidence in the nation’s drinking water supply. According to public health experts quoted in the media, the water crisis in Flint may be “the tip of the iceberg.”

In January, Silent Spring Institute successfully launched its new mobile app Detox Me, a personalized guide that helps consumers lead a healthier life by reducing their exposure to toxic chemicals. Already, the app has received several thousand downloads and was recently featured in the Huffington Post (link is external).

For almost 20 years, the staff at Silent Spring Institute have watched the changing of the seasons from a small, cozy office on a busy road in Newton, Mass. In 2015, however, we found ourselves faced with a lucky dilemma: our growth was exceeding our available working space.

Photo Credit: National Cancer Institute

For years, Silent Spring Institute has warned policy-makers, scientists, and consumers that chronic exposure at low doses to multiple chemicals over a person’s lifetime could hasten the development of cancer. It seems the rest of the world is finally hearing our call. In June, a global task force comprised of more than 170 scientists from prominent research institutions in 28 countries released a landmark study affirming the relationship between cancer and environmental chemicals.

A new study by Silent Spring Institute on adolescent girls aims to shed light on the influence of environmental chemicals on breast density, a known risk factor for breast cancer. At issue is whether exposure to harmful chemicals in consumer products during this important period of development leads to increased breast density, and as a result, an increased susceptibility to breast cancer later in life.

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