Brown-Williams, Holly

Holly Brown-Williams is Director of Policy for Health Research for Action (HRA). HRA publishes Perspectives to address critical health policy issues and provide constructive recommendations. The July 2010 issue is available on the HRA Web site at: HRA is a center in the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals Needed to Protect Workers and Communities

By Holly Brown-Williams

All kinds of consumer goods, from children’s sleepwear and toys to cosmetics, cleaning products and food, contain toxic chemicals that endanger our health and the environment. Over 85,000 industrial chemicals are on the US market today and 2,000 new ones are introduced each year — without any assurance of their safety. Government agencies must prove that chemicals cause harm before taking action to protect health.

As UC Berkeley researcher Michael Wilson said in testimony August 3 before the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, “Some chemicals are known to contribute directly to both acute and chronic health problems. Many other are suspected to play a role, but the potential health and environmental effects for the great majority are unknown.”