Toxic and Hazardous Materials in Consumer Products
According to EPA, more than 85% of the ingredients used in the manufacture of consumer products today are harmful to life. Because of this, more than 350,000 people die or are injured each year as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals in consumer products. Advanced technologies have enabled the determination of even trace amounts of such chemicals on the land, water, air as well as on food. Chemicals such as DDT are increasingly being found in the environment leading to various causes such as increase in incidents like sarcoma, breast cancer and more than 180 other health conditions. It is thus essential for methods to be found for determining the presence of very minute amounts of chemicals in the environment. Although EPA and the Food and Drug agency strive to increase the safety of consumer products, loop holes in the laws and regulations have been used to take advantage of the situation. Moreover, continued discovery of new raw materials, use of poor quality raw materials and jurisdictional boundaries still pose challenges to law implementation.
The study aims at determining the types of harmful substances in consumer products, their effects and the elimination strategies that are currently in place (Wilding et al). Although most people are aware that there are toxic substances in the environment, they are not aware that these substances are used in the manufacture of food and other products. For instance, harmful substances such as Bisphenol A are used as preservatives; others are used as polymer binders. Other substances are used in cosmetics, as fire retardants and in furniture and electronics as well as in developing materials for schools and medical centers. Pesticides are used in the manufacture of some foods. To curb the prevalence of these toxic substances, measures such as testing, the use of safety standards and regulations, clear labeling of chemical products and implying bans on toxic substances are recommended by Wilding and Welker.
Voluntary recalling of harmful products and recalling of hazardous substances are both the suggestions of SCPR in dealing with harmful substances in consumer products. Voluntary recalling involves action by the manufacturing companies while recalling is an action by the relevant authorities based on contravention of technical design. The Harmful Substances Management Act provides an alternative of reducing the harmful substances in consumer products. This is however recognized as being difficult as most of the harmful substances are recognized as being the drivers of economic benefits in the products. In California, a four step procedure has been put in place to help curb harmful substances in consumer products. The steps involve recognition of the potentially harmful products, identification of the specific combinations that result in harm in those products and provision of alternative procedures through which the harm can be prevented.
The process used by California is implemented by the DTSC. The department involves the community in the identification of the potentially harmful ingredients that are used in manufacturing. The list of harmful ingredients is used in the identification of harmful combinations that could be used in some key priority products by different companies. After identification of the combinations and the priority products, the DTSC brings on board the priority products for evaluation for the presence of the undesirable combinations. As in California, the state of Florida is also taking control of the situation through preventing contact with toxic substances.
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