The Toxics Train That Could
One of my all-time favorite children’s stories is The Little Engine That Could. As the little engine slowly and with great effort pulls himself up that steep mountain, he tells himself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Then, after trying really hard… and pushing himself… and not giving up… he finally makes it to the top. Hoooorraay!!
Turns out, this lesson isn’t just for kids.
Right now, there is a toxics reform bill in the works, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA). Powerful lobbyists who are paid by the chemicals industry are working hard to undermine the effort for truly meaningful reform to strengthen public health protections against harmful chemicals. We need to make our voices heard too in order to shore up our leaders' backbone in the face of this pressure. When it comes to improving our federal regulations on toxic chemicals, Congress needs to be inspired by The Little Engine That Could. Despite how hard it is, they need to keep trying… to keep pushing themselves…. to not give up on toxics reform.
Why is reform of our nation’s laws on chemicals necessary?
Since Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976, only a few percent of the more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States have been tested for safety, and of those, only five have been restricted. That’s right -- chemicals are currently largely unregulated in the United States, which is why moms and dads have to worry about constant exposure to dangerous substances like flame retardants, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. They are all around us in everyday products like furniture, packaging, household cleaners, and personal care items. And, they have been linked to cancers and learning disabilities, as well as damage to immune, nervous, or reproductive systems, especially in young, growing bodies.
“I think I can,” has been the mantra of moms across the country working hard every day to protect our families from toxins inside our homes. We do so by staying informed, buying smart, and sometimes even taking steps like making our own cleaning agents. But we can’t protect our families from chemicals all on our own. We need help, and that help must be an effective regulatory system for toxic substances.
The time to raise our voices is now. Congress has not made a serious effort to fix our broken regulatory framework for toxic chemicals in 37 years, but Congress is finally paying attention. Our voices are needed not only to keep this legislation moving forward, but also to tell them that any serious effort must include the following commonsense measures to protect children and communities from dangerous chemicals:
1. Establish clear protections for children, pregnant women, and hotspot communities heavily affected by pollution and toxic chemicals.
2. Allow states to progress on toxics and support their right to be more protective than federal standards.
3. Require that chemicals be shown safe to remain in use, rather than require they be shown harmful to be removed.
4. Empower the EPA to move quickly on the worst chemicals, including bans and phase outs if necessary.
5. Establish timetables and deadlines to ensure timely decisions are made to protect public health from dangerous chemicals.
In order to make sure Congress doesn't get discouraged and give up, that they actually move forward to undertake reform, moms and family members have to be loud and clear that protecting our families from toxic chemicals is a top priority. Help us tell Congress, “We know you can, we know you can!”
Take action NOW: Sign on to MomsRising’s letter now that tells lawmakers that moms and families expect them to persevere and protect our families from toxic chemicals. Help us tell them that they need to be like The Little Engine That Could and keep trying… to keep pushing themselves…. to not give up on improving protections against toxic chemicals!