Taking Action: How to Assess
Reproductive Threats at Home,
in the Community, and in
We cannot say with scientific certainty that exposure to a chemical at a certain time and in a certain dose will or will not cause a child to be born with a birth defect, a young woman to miscarry, or a husband to be sterile. Yet given the growing body of evidence pointing toward disturbing reproductive health outcomes and trends, the prudent path is to turn to the principles of precaution and prevention—principles not currently guiding all of our public policies but that regularly guide personal actions. Each day we instinctively decide how to act based on an understanding of perceived dangers and threats, such as deciding not to cross the street when a car is coming. Without thinking, we rely on the principles of probability and precaution. The same prudent course should guide individual activities regarding potentially harmful environmental exposures. As citizens, our activities need to go beyond personal behavior to support societal activities that prioritize pollution prevention.
No one should wait for a health crisis to occur, such as a miscarriage, or the birth of a child with a defect or developmental disturbance, to assess and deal with toxic threats. Undertaking a survey of one's own household, neighborhood, or workplace is one way to identify potential problem areas. In many cases, there are some very straightforward things to do to decrease immediate risks from chemical exposures. Other solutions are more complex and require that citizens try to effect changes in corporate and government policies.
This section provides some useful tools to help in protecting personal and community health. It is not meant to review all of the actions