Saturday, September 26, 2009

Consumed by consumerism

Apologies for neglecting this post, however I have been slightly obsessed with researching consumerism and inadequate labeling laws that are not protecting consumers from potentially harmful chemicals. From mercury, fire retardants, Teflon, PVC, VOCs, formaldehyde,lead, nitrogen dioxide and the rest (and there are many more). I have been shocked at how ill informed we all generally are as to the studies that link these everyday pollutants in our homes to very real health concerns. Its not that many don't care, its a case of "we don't know, what we don't know".

At school we were not taught how to create a home that meets our emotional and physical needs. It is a given that when we fly the coup we will find a roof, connect utilities and furnish it with things we like. At no stage are we taught about the health hazards of a home found in the building materials, finishes, furnishings and from the way we choose to live. I don't remember anyone ever telling me to be wary about what my homes walls were made from .....beware asbestos, or that I may buy a mattress that has been soaked in flame retardants that has been banned in other countries and documented as to contributing to respiratory health complaints and a list of other health concerns.

As we find our way in the world we learn about finance, politics and social behaviour, but we rarely take the opportunity to learn about preventative health initiatives unless it is a Government campaign through the media, or we fall ill and are induced to action. Poor indoor air quality is ranked in the top 8 public health concerns by the World Health Organisation. The 21st Century allows us the pleasures of technology and new product developments however we are being too slow in understanding that we need to question the use of chemicals used to make many products.

Many scientific minds understand this and have published papers about particular chemicals and their effects on human health. What is frustrating about this is that much of the scientific findings that call for a precautionary approach to chemical use and warnings as to indoor air quality in our homes are being ignored.

As consumers we trust that people are not allowed to sell product that could be harmful to our health. We assume that the Government has product testing in place to protect consumers from harmful chemicals. Unfortunately I have learnt this is not always the case.

There is so much general info to know about creating a healthy home, healthy home practices and how to prevent children from being exposed to potential poor health triggers within the home environment that I have felt compelled to write a book - which is where I have been the past few months.

Environmental & Indoor health is documented by Government and International Organisations as a real issue, perhaps if all consumers were given the opportunity to know about these things we may all be able to help ourselves by preventing illness while also helping our exhausted health system and the environment.

Who knew that decorating could have so much depth :)