Exposure to harmful chemicals can lead to learning and behavioral impairments, developmental delays, reproductive harm and chronic diseases including cancer, autoimmune disease, asthma and obesity. We know that Americans are widely exposed to these chemicals — some taint our drinking water, while others contaminate our homes or waft from our products.

Tens of thousands of chemicals are manufactured or imported into the U.S., resulting in billions of pounds of toxic chemicals being sold and used in our products. Meanwhile, only a handful of chemicals have been evaluated for neurotoxic effects in adults, and even fewer have been evaluated for potential effects on brain development in children.

Congress recently updated the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, the law that gives EPA authority to regulate toxic chemicals. But despite some major changes, the system for regulating toxic chemicals in the United States is largely broken. Watch the first episode in our new series exploring harmful toxic chemicals in the U.S., how they’re being regulated and how to protect yourself as a consumer.

In the first installment of a four-part digital series Project Earth’s Falyn Freyman reports on the history behind America’s lax policy regulating these chemicals. Illustrated by Bryce Fayaz.