The chemical industry began to accelerate following World War II. Today, chemicals are so omnipresent in our lives that many times we are unaware of our daily interactions with them. Their presence is often insidious, and lax regulatory guidelines allow companies to utilize them without restriction, disclosure, or consequence. The potential dangers of many of these chemicals remain unknown, and may only come to light at the expense of future generations through illness, disease or other health-related deficiencies.
The illuminating documentary Our Chemical Lives exposes these dangers, and calls for more aggressive attention from both regulatory agencies and an otherwise unsuspecting public. "The regulatory system that's been set up assumes that these chemical products are safe until proven otherwise," says Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a professor on the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. "So, in the end what we're doing, each time we release another chemical onto the market which hasn't been sufficiently tested, is we’re doing this massive experiment on our children."
As the film demonstrates, the harmful side effects of chemical exposure begin in the womb and pass directly from the mother to her fetus. Some of these chemicals have been shown to alter the endocrine system, and to cause permanent damage to many of the body's most vital structures and functions. An onslaught of troubling maladies may ensue. Hormonal imbalances can inspire the onset of puberty by the age of nine, areas of the brain responsible for impulse control and learning capacity may be compromised, and the risks of developing certain cancers could increase significantly.
How prevalent are these hazardous chemicals? They can be found in countless products we use and ingest on a daily basis, from the flame retardants that are employed in the construction of our electronics to the plastic storage containers which degrade and expel their contents into our foods and drinks.
In addition to presenting a clear case against these dangers and chastising the industries which continue to ignore them, Our Chemical Lives also provides valuable insights into how consumers can take the initiative to protect themselves and their loved ones.