The more we learn about toxic chemicals, the more we realize that they are everywhere. Toxic chemicals are in our air, water and soil, and in our bodies. Some toxic chemicals pose an immediate health threat. Others gradually build up in the environment and in our bodies, causing disease long after we are first exposed.
Some toxic chemicals impair development, some affect reproduction, some disrupt our body chemistry, and some cause cancer (Washington State Department of Health). Of the tens of thousands of chemicals in use today, few have been tested for their effects on human health. And we know even less about the combined effects of all these chemicals. This lack of knowledge makes it hard for us to protect ourselves, and especially our children, who are at greatest risk.
We have good scientific evidence linking environmental exposures to effects on our health and the health of our children. Cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, and other illnesses have been linked to these exposures, and the incidence of many other health problems is also on the rise. We spend billions of dollars annually on the treatment of illnesses caused by environmental pollutants. The best way to prevent these problems is a preventive framework that requires reasonable measures to show that chemicals are safe before they are allowed into widespread commerce.
What Ecology Is Doing About It
Ecology has three ways to reduce toxic threats. We can:
Ecology’s initiative to Reduce Toxic Threats is focusing more and more on prevention strategies.
A lack of data can be a challenge in reducing toxic threats. Ecology is working to strengthen our ability to gather data on the presence of toxic chemicals in products and the environment.
Inadequate protections at the federal level also pose a challenge. Ecology supports strong policy at all levels to protect people and the environment from toxic chemicals.
HOMES, CONSUMERS, COMMUNITIES
TEACHERS, STUDENTS, SCHOOLS
CHEMICALS & SUBSTANCES
Chemicals and Hazards A-Z | Chemicals of Concern | Arsenic and lead | Asbestos | Bisphenol A (BPA) | Diesel exhaust | Dioxins | Lead | Mercury | Flame Retardants (PBDEs) | Persistent, Bioaccumulative Toxics (PBTs) | Phosphates/Phosphorus | Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Waste | Sediment Phthalates
PROJECTS, INITIATIVES, PROGRAMS AT ECOLOGY
Beyond Waste | Children's Safe Product Act | Local Source Control Program | Chemical Action Plans | Stormwater and Runoff | Reducing Toxic Chemicals in Fish, Sediments, and Water | Sustainability | Green Chemistry | Toxics in Packaging | Urban Waters Initiative
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.