Actress and mother, Jennifer Beals, has joined Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families in Washington D.C. this week to urge Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act. I had time to sit down with Jennifer to talk about why she cares about this important issue. Leave Jennifer a supportive note in the comments below!
Q:When did you first become aware of these issue?
I first got a clue as to the wrong that needed to be made right when I opened a 3-D Star Wars puzzle and was struck by the intensity of the fumes so much so that I thought I was going to vomit. I then threw out the puzzle and had a headache for the rest of the day. What were those fumes MADE of I wondered that would elicit such a strong reaction in my body?
After that I started looking more carefully at products around me. I realized I took their safety for granted. At first I followed my nose. I wondered why on hot and not so hot days does the synthetic playing field smell like burning tires? Oh, because its infill is made with crumbled up, repurposed tires that are giving off toxic fumes in the heat. Again I had to wonder what are those fumes comprised of? I learned later that they're largely comprised of carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).
Q:What drives your passion?
Love drives my passion. Love for my child and yours, love for my friends…the amount of toxic chemicals in makeup alone is staggering.
I think we are living in the most extensive human experiment imaginable, one that is without our consent because it is largely being conducted without our knowledge. We look to our government to provide our basic rights of clean air and water and yet right in front of us, in things we may be exposed to everyday, like our couches, cleaning fluids, toys, makeup or synthetic playing fields lie toxic chemicals that have for the most part gone untested in their effect on human health.
When you read that chemicals categorized and prohibited as flame retardants in Japan and Europe were being used as an emulsifier in a sports drink regularly ingested by children or that BPA, a plastic in some baby bottles is a hormone disruptor and you look at the multiplying rates of pediatric cancer it is simply time to rethink the way we look at how chemicals are scrutinized.
Q:Why did you decide to join Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families?
I know too many people whose children have died of pediatric cancer, too many women with breast cancer…
When I read that chemicals categorized as potential carcinogens by the World Health Association (WHO) are used in our daily products, and that those chemicals are being found in our children and in women's breast milk, I had to get involved.
TSCA is a failure. We need to rethink the legislation not only for ourselves but for the countless generations that are relying on us to keep them safe and healthy.
When you have a child it changes your life in myriad ways. For me it has made me more attentive to so many things, including the many untested chemicals in and around us -AND it's made me want to do something about it.
That's why I'm joining Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families to urge Congress to pass the much needed Safe Chemicals Act…As my high school advisor use to say, "If not you, then who?"
Join Jennifer Beals and take action now!