Friday, March 16, 2012

Get Thee To A Biodome is What I Say To These Parents

Who wants to live like the extreme people in this article or be around them?  People who think they can remove all toxins from their homes should live in biodomes.  Do these kids get to leave their homes?  Do they participate in society and breathe air...that's full of toxins?

I didn't even read the article when I saw it in the hard copy of the paper because it was illustrated by a baby wearing a hazmat suit.  I just knew it was going somewhere the extremes go and you knew it would be alarmist and annoying.  The only reason I read the piece was because a friend quoted David Foster Wallace, someone whose writing I am interested in, from the article on her Facebook.

When you start googling BPA studies, you realize that BPA exposure at the consumer level is not a proven risk.  Or you learn something like there's more BPA in store receipts that in plastic anyway, which is what the article said, so why aren't we freaking out about all that BPA we keep in our purses, wallets, in our HOMES!  Yes, I admit that we buy BPA-free plastic for food storage because of the hysteria.  I fell for it.  But, I want to focus on proven risks, so I don't become that person whose life is controlled by fear.  Once you start freaking out about every unproven risk, you pretty much have to fear everything in your life because everything comes with risks.

Here's the part of the article "Is It Safe to Play Yet?  Going to Extreme Lengths to Purge Household Toxins" that made the most sense to me:

Ms. MacCleery doesn’t entirely disagree. She points to plenty of low-cost fixes, like using $1.95 porcelain demispoons in place of plastic utensils. Ultimately, “What we need are rules and systems to protect her,” she said of her daughter. “Not this idea that we can all shop our way to some place that protects us.” 

As it stands, every mother can seem like her own E.P.A. This is something less than an ideal system, Dr. Paulson said. The media encounters a germ of new health research, then spreads a contagion of fright to the public. 

Lead, mercury, asbestos, cigarette smoke: these are proven risks. But should parents “go to the ends of the earth to get every potentially toxic product out of the household?” he said. “If you want to do that, I guess it’s O.K. But there isn’t the science there to back it up.” 

Some parents take up the research into chemical safety with intellectual rigor. Adam Zeiger, father to 6-month-old Eyal, is a 27-year-old doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering in Cambridge, Mass. His wife, Danna, 27, is earning her doctorate in molecular and cell biology.
Even so, “If my Ph.D. process has taught me anything,” he wrote in an e-mail, it’s that “I know absolutely nothing. But at least I can do my homework.” 

Mr. Zeiger’s inquiries have left him unconvinced about the toxic threat. 

“There are tons of people and forums against this chemical,” he wrote. “Or saying to avoid that product. Or, ‘Don’t touch X, Y or Z because they contain something that resembles something, that came from something, that if used otherwise would cause cancer when given to rats in a million times higher doses.’ ” 

Heavy exposure to bisphenol A (known as BPA) is almost certainly a health threat, for example. But how much of the substance actually exists in a plastic bottle and how much leaches out?
Mr. Zeiger is even more skeptical about the benefits of “green” alternatives. “Now, there is food-grade stainless steel,” Mr. Zeiger wrote. “But do you really know if the steel container you bought for your water was really made to the highest of standards?” (Could this be the spark for a stainless steel panic?) 

Besides, Mr. Zeiger added, he recently read an Environmental Working Group report that revealed a more surprising source for BPA exposure: cash register receipts. When it comes to chemicals, it seems, you can run but you can’t hide.

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