Plastics industry professionals who think the Internet's only impact will be in e-commerce should think again. Increasingly, governments are launching programs to test chemicals for health effects, and that information is finding its way to the Web. All that data, in the hands of the public, is going to lead to more questions about what materials are used to make products. That may lead to more debates like the ones already under way about phthalates in medical devices and bisphenol A in polycarbonate baby bottles.
The latest focus is children's health. The Environmental Protection Agency met with industry, including plastic manufacturers, and environmental groups in late April to try to hammer out a compromise on testing of about 45 chemicals for their health effects in children.
Chemical manufacturers have cooperated with such efforts, and that should continue. Because as regulators consider crucial questions about the affect of chemical exposure on children, manufacturers should keep in mind that the Web means consumers will almost immediately have access to that same data.