Faith and Environmental groups, parents ask for protections from toxic chemicals

May 7, 2010 Bookmark and Share

Parents rally for safe consumer products as bill is introduced in Congress

Houston- Parents and environmental groups rallied today outside Americas Plaza in Houston’s East Side asking for stronger protections from toxic chemicals in consumer products as a bill, called the Toxic Chemical Safety Act, starts its journey in Congress. Local groups, like Air Alliance Houston, Texas Campaign for the Environment and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), are a part of a national coalition of 200 environmental and public health groups called Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, working to reform outdated federal law.

Parents met around a 25-foot inflatable rubber duck with a giant sign for all attendees to see which says: "Safer Chemicals Now!" The rubber duck has become a symbol representing thousands of products, including those that babies commonly put into their mouths, made from toxic chemicals such as phthalates.

"As a mother and a nurse, I have enormous concern for everyone, especially our children and unborn babies, due to the hidden dangers of chemicals in everyday products," said Mary Hintikka, local mother and Registered Nurse. "It’s time to get toxic chemicals out of our homes and schools. Parents should be able to buy products and not worry if they are going to mess up their child’s hormones, cause depression or even cancer."

Parents and faith groups are responding to a broken federal system for regulating toxic chemicals. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), passed in 1976, was intended to test and regulate chemicals before they are used in consumer products and building materials. Of the 62,000 chemicals on the market at the time this law passed in 1976, the EPA has only required testing on about 200; and it has only regulated five. As scientific studies linking common chemicals to various diseases have increased in recent years, several state governments and major trading partners like the EU and Canada have changed their own chemical laws.

Zac Trahan of Texas Campaign for the Environment said "today, chemicals in everyday consumer products are considered innocent until proven guilty. But why should we wait until people get sick before testing the safety of chemicals used in our kids' toys, electronics or other common products?"

Environmental justice advocates are joining the conversation. "Most everyone agrees that we should have safer chemicals, especially in household products intended for cleaning," said Juan Parras, executive director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS). "We need safer chemicals, and the time to act is now."

With federal law moving quickly, local groups are excited about garnering support from local Representative Gene Green. Rep. Green will be front and center as the TSCA reform debate evolves.

"We look forward to working with Representative Green to ensure that families and children are adequately protected from toxic chemicals," stated Matthew Tejada from the Air Alliance of Houston. "Parents recognize the importance both indoor and outdoor air quality have on their children’s health and we are confident a strong bill will help ensure that protection."

The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition represents more than 11 million individuals and includes parents, health professionals, advocates for learning and developmental disabilities, reproductive health advocates, environmentalists and businesses from across the nation. Our coalition includes local Texas organizations like Air Alliance Houston, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and Texas Impact.