Parents join actor Jennifer Beals in calling for increased regulation

Washington, DC – Hundreds of parents and their children descended on the nation’s capital today, calling on Congress to protect their families from toxic chemicals. Today’s “Stroller Brigade” for safer chemicals comes at a moment as the U.S. Senate makes its most serious attempt to reform federal laws in nearly forty years.

Toxic chemicals – many of which are linked to cancer, birth defects, early puberty, asthma and other serious illness – have been found in common consumer products ranging from household cleaners, to children’s products and building materials. The federal law overseeing toxic chemicals, known as the Toxic Substances Control Act, is widely viewed as ineffective and is the only major environmental law never to be updated.

In the absence of adequate federal protections, parents, states and retailers have taken steps to address toxic chemicals in consumer products. Meanwhile the chemical industry has been blocking progress on meaningful reform, spending a staggering $30 million lobbying in the first two quarters of this year alone.

“Americans have woken up to the fact that known toxic chemicals get into our homes and our bodies, often through the products we buy, and that the government doesn’t do a thing about it,” said Andy Igrejas, director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, the coalition that hosted today’s event. “We need reform that truly protects American families from chemicals that contribute to the rising rates of childhood cancer, learning disabilities, infertility and other health problems. The current proposal before Congress does not meet that standard,” he continued.

The event on Capitol Hill featured parents, children, and cancer survivors from around the country, for a “Stroller Brigade” and rally. Families also met with their senators to urge federal reform that will: protect pregnant women, children and vulnerable communities, take immediate action on the most toxic chemicals, and allow states the ability to pass their own toxic chemical laws. The bill before the Senate, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, doesn’t currently meet these important health criteria.

Among the parents in attendance was actress Jennifer Beals, who has been an outspoken advocate for safer chemicals.

“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,” said Ms. Beals. “We look to our government to provide our basic rights of clean air and water and yet right in front of us, chemicals have for the most part gone untested in their effect on human health.”

New product testing was also revealed at the event. The new data, commissioned by Healthy Stuff and the Center for Health Environment and Justice, found common products with high levels of phthalates, a group of chemicals linked to hormone-disruption, cancer and infertility. Among the products were: dumbbells, over- the-ear headphones, vinyl flooring and a Spongebob Square Pants rain poncho for children.

Dr. Yolanda Whyte, a leading pediatrician said, “Diverse organizations of doctors agree on the urgency of reforming our toxic chemical laws and the critical elements needed for it to be meaningful,” citing statements by the National Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The proposal before Congress does not meet that test. We’re here to tell Congress that reform needs to be meaningful and credible with the public health community.”

Among the critical elements Dr. Whyte cited were protection of vulnerable populations, looking at all the sources of exposure to a chemical, and providing a strictly health-based standard of review.

Public health and environmental groups have raised strong critiques of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, as drafted.

Sara Chieffo, legislative director of the League of Conservation Voters said,  “To win the support of moms across the country, reform of our toxic chemical laws must be real. Parents are asking the Senate to pass reform that will truly protect the public from toxic chemicals.”

Full product testing results available upon request.

Additional media contact:

For information on the event, photos and multimedia, or related inquiries book an please contact CJ Frogozo, CJ@FitzGibbonMedia.com, 310.570.2622.