Why care about chemicals?
Chemicals are present in almost all products. Taken together, tens of thousands of chemicals provide useful features that assist the needs of our daily lives. Chemicals are a vital part of electronic gadgets, toys, apparel, furniture, … You name it.
They come with a downside, though. A significant portion of chemicals in daily use – up to forty per cent of all manufactured chemicals, according to some scientists – have intrinsic hazards that might negatively affect the health of humans and wildlife. In other words, they are considered toxic.
Toxic chemicals constitutes a large number of intrinsic properties – Chemicals known as “CMR”s, can cause (c)ancer, induce (m)utations to DNA, or harm our (r)eproductive system. Others, for example Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, known as EDCs, interfere with our hormones, triggering various adverse effects in particular during developmental phases.
The chemical content of your product is the sum of a long chain of activities, reaching upstream through the manufacturing chain. The manufacture of a product can involve anything from a few common chemicals up to hundreds of synthetic chemicals. (A typical household cleaning product contains a dozen or so different chemicals, while an electronic gadget might be the result of several hundred used throughout its making.) Some chemicals end up in the final product while others serve as intermediates in the production chain.
Toxic chemicals will most likely be part of the mix. Chemicals with special attributes are used to achieve product properties such as durability, texture, distinct color or fragrance, etc. It is not a coincidence that chemicals with toxic properties are abundant among these special chemicals. For instance, the strive to create “enduring” properties (such as water repellant textiles) tends to favor chemicals that are more difficult for biological, living systems to recognize and to break down. Instead, they resist breakdown and build up to harmful levels in nature.
So you can assume that toxics may be part of your product, too. And you need to deal with it. Preferably sooner than later.