So you can probably tell me what formaldahyde and parabens are — and maybe even what BPA is. But do you know what PBDEs and POFAs are? What about PTFE? And 1,4-dioxane? Now, can you tell what common household goods each of those chemicals are often found in — and what health risks each of them pose?
If you flunked my little test, you’re not alone — and if your eyes glazed over the acronyms, you’re not alone either. This is where I think green and health conscious activists have a disadvantage: We’ve got too many unsexy acronyms — which makes it tougher to attract even concerned citizens to support chemical standards reform to make us all safer. “Say no to PBDEs!” just doesn’t make for a catchy, memorable slogan.
That’s why I’m glad to see a new green social media campaign: I am Not a Guinea Pig. Launched by the Environmental Defense Fund, I am Not a Guinea Pig basically puts all the health and environmental information about the unsafe chemicals in our lives in one place — in a catchier, more easy-to-understand format.
The basic goal of I am Not a Guinea Pig is simple: To push for a revamp of our chemical laws, which rely on the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 that has allowed all sorts of unsafe chemicals to be put into common household items. The hoped-for solution is to pass a strong version of the Safe Chemicals Act, which was introduced to the Senate in April 2010.
I am Not a Guinea Pig’s goal isn’t new or unique; the campaign’s simply a revamped, more social media friendly vehicle to push the same goals as Safe Chemicals, Healthy Families — a coalition of many environmental health organizations and green nonprofits pushing for chemical regulation reform. But hopefully, I am Not a Guinea Pig will help build stronger, bigger, and more diverse grassroots support for the Safe Chemicals Act — without boring people with complicated chemical acronyms.
Okay, I lied: I am Not a Guinea Pig does require you to learn one more acronym. Use the #NAGP Twitter hashtag to share news about toxic chemicals — and the eco-effort to regulate them.