Modern chemicals do many good things for us. But some also do harm — to us, wildlife or the environment. With U.S. industries now using some 75,000 chemicals, and as we discover more about their downsides, public demand for greater precaution is growing. The dramatic increase in organic food sales in the last two decades is one sign of this growing public concern.
In 2002, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog, released the results of a “body burden” study that found 167 chemicals present in the blood and urine of nine volunteers. Then in 2005, the group reported the results of its tests of 10 newborn babies, in whom it found 287 chemicals present.