In 1986, soon after the Bhopal industrial accident that killed thousands of people in India, the US Congress asked the question, can it happen here? It then gave the task to the EPA to develop a Community Right to Know Program which forces large manufacturers and users of toxic chemicals and substances to estimate the annual releases of these toxics into the air, water, and the ground and the EPA would then make that information available to the public.
The program had a dramatic effect on improving environmental quality because no one in their right mind wanted to report toxic releases of anything, even if they had a permit to do so. The race was on to find alternatives to toxics, or at the very least, reduce the amounts of toxics that needed to be reported.
The program has evolved and the list of chemicals has greatly expanded and with the internet, accessing this list is easier than ever. I will give you an easy to use EPA link to try it out for yourself.
There is one problem with this however, and that is how to interpret the information you get back. Even if you are a trained chemist like I am, and even if you understand toxicology like I do, and even if you understand industrial processing like I do, sometimes what you learn might give you needless anxiety and conversely, what you learn may not alarm you at all when in fact you should be alarmed.
The problem as I see it is educational. Federal Labor laws require that all workers exposed to toxic chemicals be trained in how that chemical may cause them harm, how they can protect themselves from exposure to that chemical, and what to do if they are harmed by that chemical. There is no such federal law for the general public that might be exposed to toxic chemicals. If you are resourceful, you can find out what chemicals might be in your back yard, but after that you are pretty much on your own unless the exposure was from a large accidental spill or release and effected residents needed emergency instructions on how to protect themselves.
I will continue to write more on this subject if there is interest. Here is a link to a good source of information about chemicals that might be physically close to your place of work, or home. Just type in your zip code or address and check it out. If you are buying a home, this is a must thing to do before closing the deal. Remember, don’t jump to any quick conclusions when you see something that might look alarming. Investigate it first.
Here is the link …