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  1. Andrew King
  1. Correspondence to Andrew King, 46 Victoria Park Ave., Toronto ON M4E 3R9, Canada; agrking{at}

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Imagine you are looking at a screen and tracing the various chemicals that are swirling around you. With filters, you would see a map of the area where you live. Those chemical trails are now affecting your friends and neighbours, flowing through the air, the water and through the products we move, use and consume. As you track your carbon trail, the impact of importing or exporting these chemicals would also be apparent. Finally, by the touch of your fingertip, you could see those very same chemicals coursing within you.

Like the geographic information system-inspired mapping described above, credible chemical policy change requires people in many locations to organise around agreed objectives operating on a number of levels with common health-based principles. A number of recent chemical policy campaigns in Canada connected personal knowledge—as parents, as home owners, as workers—with information about distribution and exposure to toxics. It was organised through a process engaging people and organisations in public health, business, cancer prevention, labour and environment with the objective to reduce exposures.

Over the past decade, four remarkable campaigns emerged to move Canadian chemical policy forward: ornamental pesticides, baby bottles, toxic blood and cancer prevention. The first began as a municipal bylaw campaign restricting the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes as a public health measure.1 At last count 168 municipalities and 6 provinces accounting for over 23.8 million Canadians, or …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.