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Ariana Kelly's picture

The hottest news across my Facebook and in-box this morning was the GoodGuide findings of dangerous metals and the chemical antimony in the season's most popular holiday toy, zhu zhu pets. The manufacturer is standing by their product. Stay tuned! (UPDATE: CPSC found the product is safe).

But moms, has this other important link also been all over your Facebook? If not, it should have been. This weekend, in another great piece in the NY Times, woman-friendly columnist Nicholas Kristoff asks:

What if breast cancer in the United States has less to do with insurance or mammograms and more to do with contaminants in our water or air -- or in certain plastic containers in our kitchens? What if the surge in asthma and childhood leukemia reflect, in part, the poisons we impose upon ourselves?

He makes a great argument for chemical policy reform in general, and specifically the elimination of Bisphenol-A (BPA) from our food containers. We’re still waiting for a similar conclusion on BPA from the FDA (a decision that was expected last week has been delayed).

In the meantime, Environmental Working Group released a study finding BPA in the umbilical cord blood of 9 out of 10 minority newborns. In addition to BPA, these African-American, Asian, and Latino/a newborns were also carrying toxic flame retardants and synthetic fragrances. All in all, 232 different chemicals were identified in these newborns. Um, Yuck.

While the sample is too small to project national trends, the minority cord blood study … has produced hard new evidence that American children are being exposed, beginning in the womb, to complex mixtures of dangerous substances that may have lifelong consequences.

So what’s a concerned mom to do?

Step One: Educate yourselves and your friends. Share these articles on Facebook. Email them to your friends. Spread the word, and encourage more journalists and parents to think seriously about chemicals. You can learn more (and join a Facebook group, so you can stay up to date on the news) at

Step Two: Educate your local community leaders and elected representatives. I am thrilled when I see my local officials and candidates sharing these articles on their facebook profiles. I know they’re working on these issues, and their efforts are putting the pressure on the federal government.

Step Three: Support federal legislation! Senator Feinstein and Representative Markey have already introduced the BPA Act of 2009. Urge your Senator to a co-sponsor this important bill.  And then you can urge your Representatives to support comprehensive reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act, so we know chemicals are safe before they’re on the market.

Step Four: Be a smart consumer.  You can check out the MomsRising Healthy Holiday Guide for information and resources on healthy gifts, party planning, cosmetics, and more.

It’s not going to be easy to pass these bills, or to change our consumer and corporate cultures to prioritize safety and long-term public health. But we know it can be done. That’s why we’re building an army of moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and allies who want a better, healthier future for our families. Please join us!

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