Micro-exposure to common chemicals may cause big health problems

Will wonders never cease? The Wall Street Journal, not typically known for its sympathy to green issues, had a blockbuster piece of environmental reporting plastered on page A1 yesterday. In the first part of an ongoing series, it describes new research on low-level exposure to common industrial chemicals. Turns out assumptions that have guided decades of public policy may be wrong: Micro-doses of some chemicals — minute exposures most people receive just by being alive in modern times, long considered physically insignificant — may cause serious health problems. Researchers think low-dose exposures may help explain increasing rates of autism, breast cancer, and other diseases. The implications for health and safety regulations are profound, but not all governments are reacting with equal force. Japan and the European Union have already put some notable restrictions in place, while the Bush administration is downplaying low-dose data, saying there’s no solid proof of a problem.