Harmful toxic chemicals added to consumer products, like TVs or carpeting, can escape the product and contaminate our homes, food, breastmilk, and bodies. The same toxic chemicals, including toxic flame retardants, phthalates, and nonstick PFAS, are making their way into the environment and affecting the health of orcas, their young, and their food sources too. In fact, when it comes to harmful chemicals from consumer products, orcas and humans are in the same boat.
It would be natural to think that most toxic pollution affecting orcas comes from discharges of unwanted chemicals, but a big source of toxic exposures for both people and orcas is chemicals in consumer products.
Another Wake-Up Call
One thing is clear: toxic chemicals put in consumer products are not only affecting human health, they are making their way into the environment and affecting wildlife, like orcas.
It’s another wake-up call that we need to do something different when it comes to chemicals in consumer products. By stopping the use of harmful chemicals in products, we can protect our health and stop the toxic treadmill of cleaning up pollution, re-polluting, and polluting again.
In 2019, the Washington State Legislature has the opportunity to enact the Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act. This law would help stem the flow of chemicals from consumer products in our homes to the environment by requiring the Department of Ecology to take action to reduce the use of classes of chemicals in consumer products that are of particular concern to vulnerable populations and species.
It’s the bold action we need to protect orcas and humans.