We’re all under increased stress right now. The economic uncertainty, the increased negativity in politics, and the challenge to keep up with it all can be wearing. Our communal stresses are boiling over into increased physical and emotional ailments, burnout and exhaustion. Companies routinely have staff doing the work of several people, and those that have these impossible jobs have to worry if they’re going to be the next victim of downsizing. While some are scrambling to find a job, workers are overly accessible making them constantly on-call via cell phone, text or video conferencing, and corporate businesses increasingly value volume over quality to keep up with the economic times. Add to this the stress of little down time (the Center for Economic and Policy Research refers to the U.S. as the No Vacation Nation), and memory overload trying to remember passwords and all of the things to keep track of in a given day, and we really need to be extra vigilant with ways to reduce our stress levels.
You know the basics -- exercise, find time to relax, eat right and get plenty of sleep. It’s time to take a closer look at how we can maximize the effectiveness of these healthy tenets. For example, the effectiveness of exercise and relaxation can be compounded when it’s done outdoors, eating right no longer means the old school model food pyramid, and sleep needs to be redefined as quality sleep.
Let’s zoom in on exercise and relaxation. One thing studies are showing again and again is that we need to put nature back in our lives. Physically and emotionally humans evolved in the out of doors. Now it’s estimated the average American spends 93% of his time indoors. Totally removing ourselves from our natural environment creates a strange sense of disorientation and alienation.
It’s now believed by many scientists, sociologists and psychologists that natural environments are necessary for good emotional health. Richard Louv has even coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder, which he sees as a contributor to increased behavioral difficulties, particularly in children.
A decrease in children’s positive relationships with the natural world is leading to adults that avoid being outside. These kids become adults who haven’t grown up with the opportunities to relate to our natural world so they don’t see the value in either preserving open spaces, or spending time in them. This is unfortunate since studies are supporting the need for time outdoors for increased physical and mental health. So let's get everyone back outside for health. Learn more about what these studies are saying in my upcoming post -- The Need for Nature.
In July of this year New Jersey's Senator Frank R. Lautenberg 's Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S847) received enough votes from the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee to move on to the Senate, where it now awaits a full vote. This legislation has the potential to make significant improvements to our health and the health of our children.
The European Union (EU) has a precautionary principle they can invoke when considering policy or legislation that involves potential toxins. The principle essentially says that if there is a question as to the safety of a chemical or additive, then it's best to err on the side of caution. It "may be used to stop distribution or order withdrawal from the market of products likely to constitute a health hazard."
In the US we have no such protections. This is why we have body products, cosmetics, and even foods that are so much more questionable than our European neighbors. For example, there are currently no requirements for a pre-market safety check of body products.
In 1976 the US legislature passed the Toxic Substances Control Act. It hasn't been very effective. Since it was passed the Environmental Protection Agency has only been able to regulate five chemicals of concern. Currently the onus is not on the manufacturer but on the EPA to prove the safety or danger of a chemical.
Lautenberg's Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 would set the standard even higher than the EU's review of toxic chemicals. Currently a safety review is initiated if the EPA questions it, and then it's up to the EPA to perform the review - with taxpayer's money. S.847 would require the manufacturer of a chemical to prove its safety. It would also make the industry more transparent as it would require disclosure of the ingredients in their creations. There would no longer be synthetics with undisclosed ingredients in our homes and communities.
A safe chemical is defined in the bill as having “a reasonable certainty of no harm.” This is similar to the standard the EPA has used to assess pesticides for the last ten years.
A particularly progressive part of the bill is the acknowledgment that we need to consider what it calls "aggregate exposure." It adds together exposure to a single substance from all sources, such as air, water, and food. It also looks at cumulative exposure which would consider the public’s aggregate exposures to chemicals that have similar effects, such as mimicking estrogen.
Here's a link to urge your senators to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act. Let's finally get a Safe Chemical Act in 2012/2013!
NaturalJersey.com was created in order to have a place on the web where we can all share the great green & natural health resources in NJ. I hope you find it a never ending resource when you're looking for health-minded local businesses.