My Story with the Chemical IndustryBy Tenya Steele
I worked in an environment that was hazardous to my health for many years. At first I didn’t realize it. But as time passed, I became aware that many of the on-site substances were known to cause cancer in some groups of workers as well as laboratory animals. Stuff like benzene, methylene chloride, and PCBs… many substances that are used by the Gas and Oil Industry. There’s not a day that goes by where I am not worried that I may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer; or that my two daughters, both whom I carried while working around those toxins, are themselves at greater risk, due to what science calls epigenetics.
Chemical exposures to workers and the general public are of grave concern because, for far too long, business has been allowed to put harmful chemicals in everyday products first, and make their products safer only after people get sick. If a company wants to bring a new drug to market, the government requires years of research and safety testing. But a chemical company can put new chemicals on the market tomorrow, without any testing to show that this new synthetic product will be safe for our health or the environment.
Just One Example
The chemical industry makes billions of dollars each year from the sale of chemicals that are not adequately tested for safety, and some legislators side with the industry lobbyists who buy their way into our decision-making process. In contrast, we pay to use the products made with their chemicals, we pay with our health, we pay with lost wages and healthcare costs when we get sick; we pay for the clean up when the chemicals pollute the environment, and our tax dollars pay for studies to assess the damage when evidence mounts about chemical health threats.
This is just one example of campaign spending being a stick jammed into the spoke of sensible progress and allows industry to go on committing their crimes in perpetuity.
For this reason, it is important for citizens across America to fight for real comprehensive chemical policies that truly protect public health, but for starters we need to tell Congress that our health and our livelihood can no longer be bought with a prices. Our voices can and will be heard. We have the power to change this NOW.
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