As headlines swirl, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the nation's food safety laws have an eerie similarity to the federal approach to safeguarding our citizens from exposure to toxic chemicals and toxic financial assets. If our federal aviation system were to adhere to the same loose, deregulated standards that we are now seeing in the chemical industry, the financial industry and the food industry, we'd be allowed to board airliners without first being checked for bombs, guns, knives, or any other objects designed to harm passengers and the crew.
That said, legislation will soon be introduced in the House and Senate that would protect every single American, including babies not yet born, from a life of daily contamination and a host of toxic chemicals, some of which are extremely potent at even low doses.
New Jersey's senior Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D), a kindhearted Senator with ten grandchildren and who I had the honor of meeting last month in Washington, DC, and Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush (D) are poised to offer a landmark reform plan -- The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act -- to fix the failed federal toxics law that instead of protecting humans and the environment from the dangers of chemical exposures, has in fact allowed an entire population of people to become polluted, beginning in the womb.
The Kids Safe Chemical Act addresses the fact that back in 1976, with the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), legislation was approved that allowed over 60,000 chemicals in existence at that time to be deemed "safe" for use without a single thorough test to prove that to be true. And in the three-plus decades since the law was passed, and additional 20,000 chemicals have been rushed into the marketplace with little or no safety tests.
Today, 1 in 3 American children has allergies, ADHD, autism or asthma, with the Centers and Disease Control recently reporting stunning increases in the number of children expected to be insulin dependent by the time they reach adulthood. With 17.6% of our GDP being consumed by health costs, there is an urgent need to address the health of our children and the impact that this generation of children is having on our country, our families and our health care system.
The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act, or Kid-Safe, would help protect the health of the American children by placing the burden of proof on the chemical industry, requiring manufacturers to first prove a chemical is actually safe before it's allowed into a consumer product. Currently, all of these chemicals are allowed into the marketplace until they are proven dangerous.
As I highlighted in a recent presentation in Atlanta, the American Cancer Society reports that the United States has the highest rates of cancer of any country in the world and that migration studies show that if someone is to move here from a country like Japan, their likelihood of developing cancer increases fourfold. Which chemicals should they test first? Why not start with those found in people, particularly babies.
Readers can learn more about the Kid-Safe legislation, its amazing efforts to improve the health of our children and even join in the discussion as scientists, researchers, lawmakers, policy analysts and journalists interested chemicals policy reform engage in an online back-and-forth at this new site hosted by my friends and heroes at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
As has been repeatedly demonstrated over the last several months, our system has some pretty significant shortcomings so a strong grassroots of committed individuals will be key in order to deliver legislation to President Obama.
The chemical industry's lobbyists, a group worthy of a John Grisham novel, as I highlight in my book The Unhealthy Truth, have spent and will continue to spend millions to defeat any real reform efforts, and are gearing up for battle at the very moment.
As a matter of fact, The Washington Post recently revealed that the chemical industry lobbyists joined forces with the food and beverage industry at a secret meeting to develop a plot based on "fear tactics" to put the breaks on plans to mildly restrict the use of just a single chemical, BPA. At this point, they may be enlisting the help of one of the most infamous players in the lobbying game, a man who has earned the nickname of "Dr. Evil."
But these industry funded folks may not realize what they are up against. We are mothers, fathers, creators and nurturers. We are teachers, lawyers, accountants and writers. And our children's futures rest in our resiliently remarkable hands. We are soundly educated, compassionately connected and have been given the tools through this remarkable legislation to affect change.
As a mother of four, with a background in finance, I am profoundly grateful for the Kids Safe Chemical Act and invite you to learn more about this important legislation and to participate in affecting this extraordinary change for our children.
The opportunity is tremendous. The adventure is ours for the taking.
If we each take action, together we can begin to restore the integrity that is now lacking in our system. We can create a ripple of hope whose force is more powerful than any one of us could achieve individually, and Dr. Evil and his gang of lobbyists won't stand a chance!
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