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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…. a North Carolina Stroller Brigade for Safer Chemicals!

If you happened to be in downtown Raleigh, NC last week, you would have been in for quite a treat. It’s rare to see a super hero strolling down the city streets, let alone a whole parade going by with capes flapping in the breeze.

But that’s exactly what happened as NC families donned super hero capes and paraded to Senator Hagan’s office to ask her to be our “super hero” and stand up for toxic chemicals reform. Parents and kids hand-delivered personal letters and drawings along with a super hero poster of Senator Hagan colored by the children urging her to support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, a bill that would reform the way toxic chemicals are regulated in the U.S.

Senator Hagan’s staff was warm and welcoming as we rolled to a stop in front her office and had a message from the Senator to share with us:

“The health and safety of North Carolina families is of utmost importance to me and among my highest priorities. As a mother of three and member of the Senate committee that oversees health issues, thank you for all your work and advocacy to protect children and families from toxic chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, asthma, and other serious illnesses. While I do not sit on the Environment and Public Works Committee which has jurisdiction over this legislation, I am glad that my colleagues, Senators Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Inhofe (R-OK) are working to forge a bipartisan compromise that will overhaul how chemicals are regulated. I will continue to monitor these deliberations closely and am eager to vote for legislation that will better protect all Americans from exposure to dangerous chemicals. The efforts of Toxic Free NC and NC MomsRising shine a spotlight on an issue of great importance to every American family.”

We were grateful to hear of her support for reform and hope that we can count on Senator Burr to be similarly supportive when we deliver our messages to him later this month.

The Stroller Brigade was part of a National Day of Action convened by the national Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition and organized in North Carolina by NC MomsRising and Toxic Free NC to call for reform of U.S. toxic chemicals policy.

Thousands of chemicals are found in the products our families use every day. Under our outdated chemical regulatory system, the EPA has been able to require testing of only a few hundred of the 62,000 chemicals on the market since the Toxic Substances Control Act, our nation’s primary chemical safety law, passed 35 years ago. Today 85,000 chemicals are on the market about which consumers know little in terms of safety.

As a result, toxic chemicals linked to developmental disabilities, asthma, reproductive harm and cancer have been found in a range of consumer products, including those intended for use by pregnant women and infants.

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S.847), introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ) would increase chemical safety, inform consumers and the marketplace on chemical hazards, and protect vulnerable populations like pregnant women and children.

As I looked around at the moms, dads, and kids coloring under the trees and parading down Raleigh’s streets, I felt tremendous pride to be part of such an important effort that not only seeks to protect families but also teaches our kids that they can make a difference. Thank you, Senator Hagan, for your statement of support, and thank you to all the families who came out to join the Brigade. It was a great day to be a super hero in North Carolina!

Beth Messersmith is a Durham, NC mother of two and NC Campaign Director for

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