Push a Stroller; Change the World

11/01/2011 09:38 am ET | Updated Jan 01, 2012

by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff
Executive Director/CEO
Healthy Child Healthy World

The last time I pushed a stroller around the neighborhood, my objectives were pretty lightweight: Exercise and a sleeping baby. My now five-year-old daughter boycotted strollers once she realized the freedom that came on her own two feet, but I'd love to borrow one -- and, perhaps, a baby -- on November 10th, if the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families stroller brigade comes to town.

In this case, the objectives are pretty serious: Moms across the country are walking to raise awareness of toxic chemical exposures and to ask their senators to support the Safe Chemicals Act.

I know what you're thinking. The Safe Chemicals Act -- wasn't that passed already? Sadly, no. The Act, which aims to update an outdated Toxic Substances Control Act, which was passed in 1976 and has never been updated, was re-introduced in April to the Senate as the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2011." And there it remains, waiting for approval.

Why the wait? The Natural Resources Defense Council recently published a fascinating report called "The Delay Game: How the Chemical Industry Ducks Regulation of the Most Toxic Substances," which analyzes how "the chemical industry has prevented EPA from completing or updating health assessments of some of the most widely used toxic chemicals in the country -- well-known poisons like arsenic, formaldehyde and hex chrome, and some of their less well-known cousins such as TCE, styrene and tetrachloroethylene."

Well, duh.

But the good news, according to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, is that actions like their Stroller Brigades have helped push individual states towards the type of common-sense legislation we can't seem to pass as a nation.

This year, seven states passed nine new toxic chemical policies, which were supported by 99% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans. These included the first ban on bisphenol-A in receipt paper (Connecticut), the first requirement of children's product manufacturers to report what toxic chemicals are present in their products (Washington) and the first state ban on carcinogenic tris flame retardant in children's products (New York). Go team!

On November 10th, Stroller Brigades will take place in Delaware, Idaho, Arkansas, Virginia, Rhode Island and California; more will be announced in the next few weeks. Can you find one close to you -- or set one up yourself -- and walk with us on November 10th?

I may not have my own stroller -- or baby -- but I'll be there. I hope you will, too!