As 2010 comes to an end, pundits and journalists alike are offering insightful and often sobering analysis of the year's most significant stories and events.
Although not high on the mainstream media radar, when I reflect on the past year, I am encouraged by the growing awareness about how our environment and the products we use and consume every day affect our health.
Amid a major environmental disaster in the Gulf and all the political bickering, The President's Cancer Panel issued a landmark report acknowledging that environmental toxins pose a serious health threat and Americans faced "grievous harm" from chemicals in our air, food and water. The report recommended the President "use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation's productivity and devastate American lives."
Long before "going green" became a successful and profitable marketing slogan, many of us understood the potential dangers posed by environmental toxins and how they contribute to the development of a variety of diseases including childhood cancers. This was the reason The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center was created.
It's been almost 10 years since I founded the Environmental Health Center and launched the Greening the Cleaning (r) program, eliminating to the greatest extent possible, toxic ingredients in cleaning products. In 2005 we introduced IMUS GTC (r) retail products for home use in an effort to provide consumers with safer, non-toxic cleaning products. We also helped usher in "Green Cleaning" Executive Orders in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that require state agencies to reduce or eliminate the use of toxic cleaning agents.
Our goal then - and one that continues today - is to educate the public about the harmful effects caused by toxic chemicals and advocate for the reduction of these exposures whenever possible. In essence, our primary focus has been on prevention. The President's Cancer Panel Report echoed our objectives and validated the work we started 10 years ago.
I don't know if the President's Cancer Panel Report will rank among the "big" stories of 2010...but it should. Our children's lives and our economic future are dependent on how successful we can be - as a society - in preventing the terrible and costly illnesses plaguing our society today.
There is no question that 2010 has been a very challenging year. With high unemployment and economic uncertainty dominating domestic concerns it's not surprising to find people frustrated and cynical about the future.
But amid all the bad news, it is important to point out the positive advances we are making...especially as it pertains to creating a safer, healthier environment for our children.
Certainly challenges remain and we have a very long way to go. But we are beginning to see a paradigm shift in the way we view childhood diseases that involves greater focus on prevention.
We know what needs to be done. Now we need policies that will help us put our children's well being first and make prevention a top priority in the coming New Year.