For Your Health: Look to Europe
Labels: Cellphone, cosmetics, Health, Nanotechnology
In recent months my research has begun to focus on the health effects of popular consumer products (electronics and cosmetics in particular). During the course of my writings, I have become aware of a peculiar trend which I imagine is not well-known by the American public overall: Products and technologies which are widely used in the U.S. without question are scrutinized, and restricted, in Europe due to their health risks.
This includes items which are a huge part of the American consumer culture here: cell-phones, cosmetics for example. The emerging consumer application of nanotechnology is another. These items are as popular in Europe as they are in the U.S. And yet...these governments seem to prioritize the health of their citizen's over profit much more than our government does.
Example Number One: Cell Phones
Mobile telephones are now banned from French primary schools under government measures to reduce the health risk to children. Further, French companies will now be required to supply phones that work only with headsets, to limit the danger to the brain from electromagnetic radiation - as ordered by the French Minister of Health. (www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6366590.ece)
There's a lot out there on the risks of cell phone use and I believe in 15 years it will replace cigarettes as the number one public health enemy.
Example Number Two: Nano-Technology
The EU recently passed legislation requiring the labeling of nanoparticles in cosmetics due to their link to DNA damage and cell toxicity. (www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18007.cfm)
Nano-technology is a new scientific process which, as is typical in our society, is rushed out to market before safety tests are applied. It has many applications, especially in medicine where it can enhance life-saving procedures. Its use in non-essential consumerism, however, particularly in cosmetics, is troubling. Essentially, nanotechnology uses microscopic particles to enhance absorption of chemicals deep into the skin. Its use in mascara, lipstick and other cosmetics (including products for children) is linked to serious DNA damage and cellular damage.
The science goes beyond the scope of this blog - but in the case of cosmetics, use the following site to find cosmetics which do not apply this dangerous technology. (www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18007.cfm)
All this begs the question:
Why is it that our European neighbors place a higher priority on public health than we do? Is it intelligence? What about our society lends itself to remaining loyal to corporations who, clearly, care more about their profit than our health? And why does our government choose to provide far less stringent protection to us than their European counterparts?
When I bring up issues of product safety such as these I often get the response "Oh, you're too much". In the context of this blog, I will refrain from using the words I otherwise might use when responding to such idiocy.
For now, I will simply suggest to anyone interested: do your own research on the risks of popular consumer products! ..and the first place to look should be: Europe. There is lots that will surprise you.
They seem to care about people's health more than we do here.
(Originally posted January 2010).