Cindy Luppi, Clean Water Action
Mother’s Day is this Sunday and this year, we’re asking for a special gift for moms across the nation: a healthier future, free of toxic chemicals. Moms, dads, sons, daughters, and grandparents from coast to coast are raising their voices – and their cameras – in support of new legislation that would prevent harm to our health from toxic chemicals. Together we’re sending the message that chemicals linked to cancer, learning disabilities, reproductive disorders and other chronic health epidemics don’t belong in the products we use at home and at work. And that the time for change is now.
Last month, Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) and Representatives Bobby Rush (IL) and Henry Waxman (CA) introduced new legislation to overhaul our outdated and broken chemical system (the Toxic Substances Control Act, last significantly amended in 1976) with a policy that reflects modern science. During the last 34 years, health researchers have made tremendous advances in understanding how toxic chemicals can affect all our health — how even very low doses of hazardous chemicals can have a profound effect on the most vulnerable, such as women of child-bearing age, pregnant women, and young babies.
The good news is that, with strong reforms, we can reduce the presence of toxic chemicals in our daily lives and can prevent disease, reduce the burden on families struggling with a chronic illness like cancer, and significantly reduce our health care costs./Full disclosure: this is a very personal issue for me./ My mom Joanne is full of life, one of the strongest women I know with a big network of friends who are the backbone of their community (Portland, CT). She’s a retired teacher, obsessed with her garden and birdwatching…a bit of a gypsy who will jump at the opportunity to travel anywhere, the more exotic the better. She’s a one-of-a-kind mom to me and my sisters. And she’s been dealing with first non-Hodgkins and now Hodgkins lymphoma for the past five years.
We can’t know definitively if her illnesses have been caused by toxic chemicals, but health studies provide clear links between these diseases and exposure to solvents (like those found in cleaning products), pesticides, and chemicals like PCBs that persist in the environment and in our bodies. And, as with many who struggle with these diseases, she has no family history of cancer to help us understand better why this happened.
So we are left to ask – what if this could have been prevented? What if she and millions like her didn’t have to lose their hair? Spend days attached to an IV being pumped full of chemotherapy drugs? Recent studies state that over 11 million people are living with cancer in the U.S, with direct medical costs related to cancer totaled a whopping $93.2 billion in 2008.
Cutting-edge science tells us that a portion of this health burden can be lifted, if we break the cycle of daily contact with cancer-causing chemicals. Cutting-edge green chemistry shows us that we can replace toxic chemicals linked to chronic health epidemics like cancer with safer alternatives that are often already available.
Our moms deserve a future where our economy is fueled by safer chemicals and safer products instead of hazardous materials we know contribute to cancer. It would be a fitting Mother’s Day gift to them if Congress were to update our laws, close any loopholes that allow the most hazardous chemicals in everyday products, and require new chemicals be tested for safety before entering the marketplace, by next Mother’s Day.
Please join us! Add your photo to the Mother’s Day photo “quilt” and send a message to your legislators urging them to take action. Do it for your mom…