It shouldn’t be asking too much for the products we purchase to be safe for use, should it? Whether it’s the food we eat, the air we breathe, the products we use, the toys our children play with – and much more, it seems like common sense that any product on a store shelf should be made safely.
Yet unfortunately, that is far from the case, and many of the products we come in contact with every single day could be doing more harm than good. And it extends across almost every product category. We are exposed to thousands of chemicals every day that are made with tens of thousands of chemicals that have never been evaluated for their safety.
We as consumers have relied largely government regulations to ensure our safety, until recently. Thank goodness for people like Erin Brokovich, though, as her work has showed us that oftentimes we need to our own research further to get the whole story. As we have learned, what is deemed safe here in the United States may be largely defined by dollars rather than sense.
Our current law, known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is 40 years old, and has never been updated to reflect all that has been learned about how chemicals enter our bodies, and what exposure can do to us over time. Even before the current administration, the EPA has been nearly powerless to restrict known deadly carcinogens such as formaldehyde, lead, and asbestos – which kills 10,000 Americans every year.
Common industrial chemicals have been linked to cancer, infertility, asthma, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, among others. These chemicals can be found in nearly everything we use, from cleaning products, to clothing, to food, and to furniture.
Let’s take a quick look at cosmetics, for example. European law bans approximately 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm, or birth defects. By comparison, the number of banned or restricted chemicals from cosmetics in the United States is roughly 11.
This is not about politics. This is a matter of our safety and the safety of our children. We deserve at least that much from our leaders. Don’t we?
Believe it or not, there are two pieces of legislation presently that would make matters even worse. Here’s what you need to know RIGHT NOW, because soon it will be too late:
The Scary Legislation You Need to Know About
Unfortunately, legislation is moving in Congress right now that guts federal safety protections. Two pieces of legislation, the Regulatory Accountability Act and the REINS Act, are both direct threats to public health. Both of these acts have dire consequences, as they will render agencies incapable of implementing and enforcing commonsense safety laws.
The REINS Act would require Congressional approval of rules, effectively giving either branch of Congress, or powerful lobbying groups, a “pocket veto” on safeguards. The REINS Act was just added to Senate Legislative Calendar.
The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) would create hurdles to rulemaking similar to the one that kept America from banning asbestos. The RAA has already passed in the House, so it’s vital that we fight it immediately.
Why should you care? Here are a couple of examples of what will happen if these acts pass:
1. Just last month, your child may have worn a Halloween costume. Do you know what kind of toxins and chemicals are lurking in Halloween makeup and costumes? Many are already made with toxins, and that’s before any “safety” regulations that currently exist would be gone.
2. The efforts that have been put into place to label food for allergens, eliminate trans fats, remove arsenic and lead from food, label GMOs, and more, could all be for nothing, as the RAA would make it difficult or impossible to enforce those standards. This would not only endanger our kids, it would make it nearly impossible to keep our food supply safe.
3. These bills would undermine product safety for nearly every item our children interact with by stalling or killing safety protections. What would it mean if there were no protections in place making the toys, baby products, sports equipment, or furniture you buy for your family safe?
4. From asbestos in classrooms to lead in drinking water, and even the safety of the school buses, the RAA and REINs Act would make it harder to keep our kids safe in school. Protections to safeguard our children from toxic chemicals would be difficult, if not impossible to implement.
By the way, if you thought asbestos is an issue that has long been resolved, think again. Asbestos continues to plague schools and pose a health threat in classrooms throughout the country, especially if your school was built before 1980.
5. One in ten children in the United States has asthma. It is the single most common chronic disease of childhood. It is well known that the rise of asthma and other respiratory diseases are drastically increased by air pollution. These bills would make it substantially harder to keep our air and water clean, as the regulations on them would either be lifted or virtually impossible to enforce.
How We Can Fight the REINS Act and the RAA
If this concerns you too, there are simple ways that we can all help. We have the power to make a difference.
- Email your members of Congress via the super easy click-to-email tool on momscleanairforce.org.
- Mobilize your online or local community (or both) to take action against the RAA and REINS Act.
- Call your members of Congress and speak to them directly about these frightening pieces of legislature.
Stay on top of the news regarding this legislature by following along on Facebook and Twitter. You can also learn more about initiatives to help our families stay safe and healthy at http://CleanAirMomsAction.org/.
We need to take action for our kids right now, because if we wait any longer it will be too late. Our safety and the safety of our children are at stake.
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