By Nickie Greco of Omaha, Nebraska
How have toxic chemicals affected your life?
Toxic chemicals have affected my life in a couple of different ways. As an AmeriCorps member with Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance in Omaha, NE, I deal with childhood lead poisoning on a daily basis. I try to help families who have been affected by this devastating situation. Omaha is the highest residential superfund site in the country and seeing the thousands of children under the age of six that are affected by this pulls on my heartstrings. I have had to deal with toxic chemicals in my personal life as well. My children and I have had a range of health problems related to chemicals in cleaning products including asthma and sensitivity to synthetic fragrances.
What worries you the most about chemicals in everyday products?
What worries me about the chemicals in everyday products is if it does “EVERYTHING” the label says it does…what “ELSE” does it do? I understand there is a purpose for every product, but there can be negative consequences, including allergic reactions, respiratory distress, or worse.
Why do you think Americans need better protection?
I believe that Americans need better protection because a lot of people think that what they are using is harmless to themselves and the environment, when in reality the products are harmful. Americans trust that products are safe for use around their families, but the chemicals are not being regulated or governed, so there is really no safety check by the government. We need lawmakers to come together and create stringent toxic chemicals laws to keep our families safe.
What matters to you most about toxic chemical reform?
What matters most to me about toxic chemical reform is that it works and the chemical companies start to realize that they are not doing as much good as they are harm. As consumers and parents, we deserve to know what is in the products we are buying and how it will affect our health and well being in the years to come. For toxic chemical reform to work the government has to be behind American consumers 100 per cent and fight for our rights to cleaner chemicals and healthy living.
You participated in our press event with Jessica Alba and legislative meetings on Capitol Hill. What can you tell us about this experience?
Being a part of the Alba press event and meeting with members of Senator Johanns’s staff helped me realize that this problem can no longer go in silence. Americans all over the country, especially parents, need to speak out and be outraged about the toxic chemical issue. Six mothers from across the country got together and voiced their opinions about toxic chemicals and how it affects their everyday lives and families and a lot of people took notice. The experience made me realize how this issue affects everyone and that more attention needs to be paid to make the necessary changes.