Stroller Brigade to Congress: Toxics chemicals have to go!
With chants of "People have a right to know! Toxic chemicals have to go!" and "Chems in kids, that's the worst, time to put the people first!" Approximately 200 moms, nurses, cancer survivors and other passionate citizens from across the United States gathered in Washington DC on May 22nd for a Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals organized by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.
The Stroller Brigade participants sent a strong message to Congress: Our families are sick and struggling and we are tired of unawarely bringing toxic chemicals into our homes and exposing our children and ourselves because the United States has inadequate chemical safety laws. It's unacceptable that the only law we have is the broken, ineffective and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). We can do better and we must in order to protect our health and lower health care costs in this country.
Armed with more than 130,000 petition signatures, the delegations, who travelled from as far as Maine, Florida, New Mexico and Alaska joined forces on the Capitol Lawn to hear stories of mothers whose families are struggling with illness and to greet Senators who have been champions of safer chemicals.
Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), sponsor of the Safe Chemicals Act, Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Charles Shumer (D-NY) addressed the crowd. We then marched, chanting, to the Senate office buildings and fanned out to visit over 50 US Senators and Representatives to call for passage of the Safe Chemicals Act.
The Safe Chemicals Act would go a long way to addressing the failures of TSCA and protecting our families. It would improve the safety of chemicals used in consumer products, increase public information on chemical safety, protect our most vulnerable populations and disproportionately affected "hot spot" communities, reform EPA's science practices to ensure the best available science is being used to determine chemical safety and support innovation in the marketplace and provide incentives for the development of safer chemical alternatives.
Four Massachusetts activists (pictured above) made up the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow delegation to the Stroller Brigade. Gail McCormick, a grandmother from Arlington, joined the group to share her concern about the toxic chemicals in her grandhildren's home. Lori Popkewitz Alper, a mother of 3 from Bedford and author of the Groovy Green Livin blog, has three children, two with severe food allergies and worries about the links to toxic chemicals. Laura Henze Russell of Sharon shared her story as a mother, a survivor of breast cancer, and a victim of mercury poisoning from her dental fillings. Elizabeth Saunders, Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coordinator, joined the delegation from Boston.
Members of the Massachusetts delegation met with staff in the offices of US Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown and Representative Barney Frank. The group thanked Senator Kerry for his co-sponsorship of the Safe Chemicals Act by presenting him with a "superhero" cape, in follow up to last summer's Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals in Boston. We also urged Scott Brown to co-sponsor the bill and Representative Barney Frank to support it when it comes to the House of Representatives (the bill is currently before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee).
Efforts to pass this bill will continue, so stay tuned for how you can help! In the meantime, you can see more photos from the day on the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow Facebook page, and on the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Facebook page. Finally, dozens of media outlets across the nation covered the Brigade. Here are links to some of our favorite pieces: