Under Henderson's structural strategy--the Green Economic Environment (GEE)--toxic chemicals and other undesirable compounds would be taxed based on their harmfulness to the environment. This would increase their price and deter their use.
The strategy would shift industries and markets to greener alternatives and progressively reduce the presence of toxic chemicals and carcinogens in the environment.
Taxation would cover both the toxic chemicals used as inputs in the fabrication of goods and final consumer products such as non-green cleaning agents, solvents, pesticides, etc.
The system would be revenue-neutral, with consumers seeing income/retail taxes drop in compensation for the higher prices of some goods (see revenue-neutral taxation).
Background Information Body Contaminants: What Is Out Is Also In
New research on human tissue contamination as a result of environmental causes is unequivocally pointing to the fact that what is out is also in. Human bodies are not dissociable from what is in their environment. We are not only what we eat but also what we breathe and what that which we ingest is produced from.
Two other groundbreaking studies have also highlighted the crisis brewing on the horizon. One was conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in association with Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Commonweal. In the tissues of adult humans, it found a total of 167 chemicals, of which 76 are known carcinogens, 94 are neurological toxins, and 79 can lead to birth defects or developmental problems. A followup study in 2005, Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns examined the chemical contents of the umbilical cord blood of infants. Samples were tested for 261 compounds, and the results were equally disturbing.
The other study is a Canadian one. Sponsored by Environmental Defence, it checked for fewer chemicals but also found in human tissues a frightening cocktail of compounds (heavy metals, PCBs, PBDEs, pesticide and insecticide residues, etc.), many of which are known to cause cancer, toxify the nervous system, and affect hormonal systems, reproduction, and development. View the detailed results of the study here: Polluted Children, Toxic Nation:
A Report on Pollution in Canadian Families.
Through the food that we eat, we absorb the contaminants contained in the soil. Likewise, the cocktail of chemicals contained in our drinking water (jet fuel residues and others) are also absorbed into our bodies. Our lungs act as a vacuum cleaner, trapping and absorbing the impurities of the air we breathe. They actually act as a filter for it, the bad stuff being retained within our bodies.
Some of these substances cannot be eliminated by animal digestive and excretory systems. So, they keep accumulating in us, in our bodies. That is, they bioaccumulate. Levels are lower in plants and increase rapidly as you go up the food chain, to the animals that eat the vegetation and to us that eat the animals that eat the vegetation. It gets worse at each level of the food pyramid.
PCBs and mercury are examples of such compounds. The former have been banned for production and in open systems a few decades ago but are still everywhere in the environment. What happens to the remaining quantities still being used in closed system is anybody's guess. There is yet very little regulation regarding the use and production of mercury.More information: Environmental Defense FundEnvironmental Working Group