Catching Fire: Inflaming Our Passion to Pass the Safer Chemicals Act

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Written by Kirsten Moore for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

They lied to state legislators about flame retardants. They distorted the science about the effectiveness of flame retardants. They manipulated firefighters, some of our most trusted public servants. And they have harmed the reproductive health of women and families.

Who? The Chemical Industry.

It might seem like hyperbole, but the egregious behavior of chemical companies in the service of preserving and expanding the market for flame retardants is documented in a jaw-dropping investigative series from the Chicago Tribune, detailing deeply disturbing practices at the heart of the chemical industry. 

Flame retardants are associated with reductions in fertility, poor sperm quality, neuro-development delays in children, and cancer. And because the chemical industry has been so deceptive and successful, flame retardants are found in strollers, nursing pillows, couches, chairs, cell phones, TVs, computers, and automobile cushioning – just to name a few places. In fact, 97 percent of Americans have flame retardants in our bodies. Even baby belugas in the arctic have flame retardants in their bodies!

Why should reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates care about baby belugas and poor sperm quality? It’s simple. We care about women’s health and we value each woman’s reproductive decision-making.  If we are constantly exposed to chemicals that can harm our reproductive health, women who want to become pregnant may not be able to and women who are pregnant may not be able to shake the concern of how toxic chemicals will impact the health of their child.

So what can we do? We can support the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill that will put commonsense limits on toxic chemicals.  

We aren’t the only ones with a reignited commitment to passing the Safe Chemicals Act.  The Tribune series has inflamed supporters on the Hill. As a result of the series, Senator Durbin (D-IL) has signaled his strong support for the Safe Chemicals Act and announced an interest in moving something to the floor before recess in July.  

We can help make that happen.

Join the the Safe Chemicals Brigade on May 22d in Washington, DC– an event to show Congress we’re fed up with toxic chemicals in the products we use, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.  For more details, check out the event Facebook page.