On Tuesday almost one hundred mothers, fathers and children gathered at the Capitol to urge Congress to tighten regulations of harmful chemicals.
The Safe Chemicals Act, if passed by Congress, would create a new process to monitor toxic chemicals used in consumer products. These chemicals, specifically flame retardants, commonly found in furniture and baby products, have been linked to neurological defects, cancer, developmental problems and impaired fertility.
For years the chemical industry have claimed these chemicals save lives, but those claims are based on scant studies and activists note the chemicals to very little to protect consumers from fires.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) spoke passionately on the Senate floor about the need for such a measure. “As the mother of young children who are most vulnerable to chemical exposure, I’m particularly concerned about what chemicals affect them, their well-being and their development.”
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) is a sponsor of the bill and said he proposed it after reading a series in the Chicago Tribune detailing the risks posed by the chemicals. “We’re finding more and more babies and more and more children across America with these chemicals already in their bloodstream,” he said. “How did that happen? It happens every time you sit down on the couch…. When you sit down, you release this fine spray of toxic chemicals right in the face of your baby.”
As is stands, under current law the Environmental Protection Agency has limited powers to investigate the safety of chemicals. In fact, since the law passed in 1976 only four chemicals have been pulled from the market for safety reasons.
The new bill would require chemical manufacturers to provide safety information on all chemicals to the EPA and the public. The EPA would also be required to categorize chemicals by risk level. This is exactly the kind of leadership members of Congress should show when it comes to the safety of our children and our homes. Let’s hope Republicans understand that.
Photo from Spec-ta-cles via flickr.