Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

The Program
The Problem
Body Burden
A Toxic Journey
Children at Risk
The Evidence
The Options


Discuss the Problem
Email to a friend Make a Pledge
Moyers Mailing List
The Problem




The chemical revolution of the past 50 years has altered nearly every aspect of our lives. Many of the products we rely upon every day – from plastic bags to computers – would not exist without synthetic chemicals. Most of us believe the chemicals in consumer products have been tested and approved by some government agency. In fact, until they are proven harmful, most chemicals are presumed safe.

Click for pdf document

Of the more than 75,000 chemicals registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, only a fraction have gone through complete testing to find out whether they might cause problems for human health. Many that are produced in enormous quantities have never been tested at all. Usually, it takes dramatic episodes of workplace injuries or wildlife poisonings, combined with rigorous scientific proof of harm and public outcry, before the government will act to restrict or ban any chemical. And that is no accident. The current regulatory system allows synthetic chemicals into our lives unless one is proven beyond doubt to be dangerous.

Today, while scientific research worldwide is finding that every one of us carries traces of synthetic chemicals in our bodies, scientists know very little about the risks of these low level exposures. We do know some chemicals are highly toxic. Some are carcinogenic. Others interfere with the reproductive system. Many others likely present no health threat at all.

The problem is that for most chemicals, we simply do not know how safe – or dangerous – they may be. And they are everywhere around us – in the air, soil, and water; in our homes; and in our bodies. Not a single child today is born free of synthetic chemicals.




Chemical Body Burden
When scientists tested Bill Moyers’ blood, they identified traces of 84 chemicals. Find out which health problems can be associated with exposure to the chemicals they detected.
Bill Moyers
A Toxic Journey
Industrial chemicals are now in every ecosystem on the planet – sometimes turning up thousands of miles from their original sources. Follow the journey of one molecule of PCB as it makes its way to the top of the food chain.
A Toxic Journey
Children at Risk
A growing body of evidence is raising concerns that exposure to toxic chemicals may harm children and developing babies far more than adults. Learn why the young could be at extra risk.
Children at Risk

Worker
"They ran a series of four sperm counts on us over a period of, I guess, two or three months. All my sperm counts came up zero."


Resources
Centers for Disease Control
Exposure assessment for 27 toxic substances that may cause serious diseases


Excerpt (pdf) from Why Poison Ourselves, by Anne Platt McGinn, Worldwatch Institute

Excerpt from Our Stolen Future
by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers, Web site


In Harm's WayToxic Threats to Child Development from Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility

Anniston, Alabama Star, Tainted History legacy of PCB contamination

Trade Secrets Documents

Excerpt from Children At Risk by Vicki Monks, National Wildlife Magazine.



Photo Credits: Elaine Ross



Resources  |  Program Credits  |  Site Credits  |  Site Map  |  Bulletin Boards  |   Home