Toxic Substances Control in the 1990s: Are We Poisoning Ourselves with Low-level Exposures?

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

The production of synthetic organic chemicals has risen from less than one billion pounds in 1920 to 23 billion pounds in 1945, 75 billion pounds in 1960, to 213 billion pounds in 1988 (Figure 1) (12, 16). Most Americans wake up to synthetic fabrics in their bed cloths and clothing; they eat food (grown with pesticides and fertilizers made from these synthetic chemicals) packed in plastics; they are transported to their jobs in a vehicle that is composed largely of plastics and fueled by organic chemicals; synthetic materials are an essential part of their work. In addition to the synthetic organic materials, most Americans are exposed to large quantities of natural toxins, such as mercury and lead, and eat numerous natural pesticides and cooking-produced toxic compounds (3, 50). Constant exposure to potentially toxic substances is a fact of modem life-and was a fact of life before the first synthetic chemicals.




Published In

Annual Review of Public Health , 11, 69-87.