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So you are one of the few Americans that have great health insurance.  You don't have to worry about your health or the health of your family...right?  WROOOOONNNNGGGG!!

Sometimes the rich and powerful shoot themselves in their collective feet.  Big business does not want to provide health care for all the poor people in the US.  At least not when they can charge the majority of us for the priveledge.  Meanwhile the CEO's and Congress have premium health insurance and therefore they are "safe".

Sorry.  Even if you have great health insurance you are just as at risk as the rest of us when it comes to collective illness that we all face by simply living here in the United States.  And no, you can not eat better and excercise more to overcome this risk.

Lets walk through the events that lead you and me to assume more health risk than our counterparts in Europe.  

The US led the way in environmental protections in the 1970's.  We were the first with a law to govern toxic substances in the world and the first with an agency to regulate new substances--the EPA.  The rest of the world followed our lead.  In 1981 there was  a law passed that enforced that new chemicals must be tested for safety before they were introduced to our markets.  Unfortunately, those chemicals that were on the market in 1981 could continue to be used without testing.  Well who could blame them?  You have to start somewhere.

The result today is that only 10-15% of chemicals on the market are new.  The rest predate 1981 and are not required to be tested.  That does not mean that they have not been tested.  Many independent labs have studied these substances and found them to cause cancer or other illness.  But they are grandfathered into the EPA and therefore unregulated.  Additionally cosmetics are completely unregulated by the EPA.  The result is that there are serious concerns about some ubiquitous items such as Teflon,  Water Bottles , Microwave Popcorn, and Fluoridated Tooth Paste . These things could actually kill you!

While the US has been backing away from environmental protection and underfunding the EPA the rest of the world has marched ahead.  

As it turns out it is expensive to treat a large proportion of your citizens for cancer and chronic disease.  If you live in a country where the government pays for the health care of its citizens, then there is some pressure to keep health care cost low while mantaining high quality. It makes sense in that circumstance to limit the things in that environment that could make people sick.  Here in the US, on the other hand, we have arrange our health care so that the people in control of Congress and the Media make more money if you get sick.  The insurance companies and big pharma pay for advertising and for campaign contributions.  The more illness you have the more money they make and the more they pass on to your congressmen and the media.

So it should be no surprise that the European Union requires companies to prove that all of there chemicals are safe.  Once the research is in, the chemicals are registered before they go to market so that if any other research indicates that they are not safe then they can be withdrawn.  Now get this...the EU not only controls the chemicals that people eat, like pesticides, but also personal hygiene products and cosmetics.  AND items that do not directly contact you but may effect your environment; like the chemicals in electronics (lead, mercury, etc.) that end up in the water and soil when the item is discarded.  The EPA does not monitor any of these things.

What was the US response to the ban of many chemicals that American corporations are still putting in our products?  Did we say thanks for doing the research to keep our people safe?  No.  We challenged the rules of the EU through their trade treaties via the WTO.  In other words we complained that they were not keeping business safe.  (These challenges failed by the way.)

So now other countries, including the very conservative China, are adopting the EU rules and changing their products.  But not the maverick US.  We maintain that those substances are safe no matter how much evidence shows that they kill people.  In fact China is changing all of their products except the ones shipped to the US.  That is right.  When I was growing up it was a big contraversy that the US was unloading items with dangerous chemicals on the developing world.  Now the developing world is dumping them on us!  That is some wicked Karma.

You can learn more about this subject at Mark Schapiro's Book: Exposed .
Or visit the Center for Investigative Reporting
You can hear Mike McCormick (Mind over Matters) interview with Mark Schapiro at  Unwelcome Guests episode #396, second half of the show.

You can learn more about the items you use in your every day life at:

Originally posted to Dr A on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 03:17 PM PST.

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