Sara Chieffo

Photo: Michelle Martin

Good morning everyone — it is an honor to be here today. My name is Sara Chieffo, and I’m the Legislative Director at the League of Conservation Voters — a member of the Safe Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition.

I’m also a new mom to my 6 month old daughter, Stella. Before I had my daughter, I had some knowledge about the potentially dangerous chemicals lurking in the products that we use everyday. For years, I have tried to only buy products labeled as “green” and “natural”. I thought I was doing enough to make sure I wasn’t exposed to toxic chemicals.

But I was wrong.

I was shocked to learn that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has found that nearly all pregnant women in the United States have several different toxic chemicals in their bloodstream.

You see, even as a somewhat informed consumer, I simply couldn’t shop my way out of this problem. Dangerous chemicals are all around us — they are in our carpets, couches, and electronics, even in the receipt I get from the organic grocery store. I became concerned that my constant exposure to these chemicals could negatively impact my baby’s health even before the moment I got to hear her first cry. I have also learned that dangerous chemicals are in a disturbing number of children’s products, from mats to toys to the very floors they crawl on.

Recent product testing by the Ecology Center and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice found levels of phthalates, a chemical linked with infertility and birth defects, in products that I never would have imagined. This Spongebob Square Pants rain poncho and this vinyl flooring both tested positive for dangerous levels of phthalates.

Stella is on the verge of crawling — huge motivation for her parents to keep our floors clean. But there’s nothing I could do to limiting the off gassing from the actual flooring. I could be exposed to harmful chemicals when using a few precious minutes of free time during a nap to squeeze in some exercise with these dumbbells or using these ear buds when talking to grandma during an afternoon walk. These are a few small — but all too real examples of how we may be exposing ourselves and our children to toxic chemicals despite our best efforts.

As a parent, it is difficult and scary to know that I can’t protect my child from chemical exposure. The problem is too big for me to tackle on my own. There is a law on the books, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), that should be protecting our children from toxic chemicals, but it is outdated and badly broken. I am proud to be standing with all of you calling on Congress to reform TSCA in a meaningful way that finally gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to take action against dangerous chemicals.

At LCV, we will continue to work with every Senator willing to fight to protect public health, particularly the health of the most vulnerable, from toxic chemicals. We know from our work across the country that this issue rises above partisan politics — concerned citizens from both sides of the aisle are demanding meaningful chemical policy reform that protects our health and the environment.

I am inspired by all of your work and stand here shoulder to shoulder with all of the moms, dads, and concerned citizens that are demanding protection from toxic chemicals, for Stella and for all our children. Thank you.