Safer Products Part I

With the first reported case of Mad Cow Disease in the United States, on December 23, 2004, interest in safe products is greater than ever, and more organic products are being bought by health-conscious Americans. Organic food sales have grown 20 to 25 percent each year since 1990, said a study conducted April 2003 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

Natural alternatives to drugs are also attracting more consumers. A few years ago an article in the Journal of Women’s Health discussed the increasing use of botanical products for wellness and health, including relief from menopause symptoms, better sleep, less joint pain, and more energy. It is encouraging that the National Institutes of Health is conducting research into the antioxidant properties of green and black tea. Cancer prevention is, of course, part of the reason behind the use of these substances.

Twenty-one years ago, Will Steger and Jon Bowermaster wrote a call-to-action book, Saving the Earth: A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Action (Knopf, 1990). Today we are still facing the same problems: “Industrial chemicals are used everywhere, and their ubiquity is the basis of the problem. They are used to make steel, paper, wood products, plastics, pesticides, and much else. The list of dangerous chemicals we come in contact with every day is long and runs the gamut from “A” to “Z,” from acetaldehyde, used in making plastic, drugs, and dyes, to zinc, used in car parts, electroplating, batteries, electrical products, and fungicides. More than 80,000 different industrial chemicals are used worldwide. These materials are costly to make and expensive to get rid of. And the costs, whether in terms of human health, damage to the environment, or the pocketbook, are borne by everyone.”

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