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7 posts from May 2012


Bringing the Stroller Brigade Home

By Martha Moriarty, LDA Minnesota

I'm a "Minnesota Mom" and glad to be one.

Frankens officeThis week I had the honor of being a part of the National Stroller Brigade, a march to support the Safe Chemicals Act in Washington, D.C. Prior to leaving for the event, I saw the trip as part of my job.  You see, I work at LDA Minnesota, a nonprofit helping children, youth, adults, and families with learning and attention difficulties, including learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.  LDA Minnesota advocates for toxic chemical reform because many of these chemicals are neurotoxins and can lead to learning and developmental disabilities in our children.  The children and families we help face a lifetime of challenges including learning to read, managing relationships, and holding a job.  I was traveling to the Stroller Brigade on behalf of over 3,000 children and families we help each year who struggle with learning and ADHD.

Micaela of Mindful Momma and Martha get ready to head in to their meeting with Senator Franken's staff.

However, after being a part of the Stroller Brigade and spending two days with a group of moms (and a few dads) who are all concerned about toxic chemicals in everyday products, especially children's products, I've embraced my role as a proud "Minnesota Mom" and see that this issue extends beyond my professional life.  It's an issue close to home, too. It touches my life as a mom of two young children that I hope will live healthy, long lives, and as a daughter of a parent who is battling cancer.

LDA affiliate reps
Martha with representatives of LDA from all across the country.

I'm lucky to live in a state that has passed laws to protect our children from toxic chemicals in everyday products, like the BPA-ban in sippy cups and baby bottles.  I feel lucky to have Senators who both have signed on as co-sponsors of the Safe Chemicals Act, a proposed law that would ensure that chemicals are safe and tested before they end up in consumer products.  And, I feel lucky to have the Healthy Legacy coalition and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families working on my behalf to pass these laws to protect our children now and into the future.

But much work still lies ahead.  The Minnesota Department of Health has released a list of nine priority chemicals that are harmful to our health and continue to be a source of exposure for kids. As a mom and an advocate, I want all Minnesota kids to be safe from exposure to these and other harmful chemicals.  And more than that, I want to live in a country where our health is valued and protected.  That's why we urgently need action on the Safe Chemicals Act, too.

Senators Lautenberg and Durbin speak to the media about the need for chemical policy reform. 

As I boarded the plane to head home to our beautiful state, full of natural resources and above-average citizens, I put my "mom hat" back on and began thinking about what to cook for dinner, what time I had to pick up the kids from school and daycare, and when I was going to fit in grocery shopping before the holiday weekend arrives.  But I stopped for a moment and recognized that all of the moms I met in D.C. must not put away our Stroller Brigade work for too long.  This work of protecting our families needs to happen.  The time is now to pass the Safe Chemicals Act and we can't let the momentum slow, we must continue to raise our voices and demand the change that is so urgently needed to protect our families.



Fight back against chemical industry deception!

Furniture on fireLast week, the Chicago Tribune set the (presumably flame retardant) collective pants of the chemical industry on fire by exposing their deceptive tactics to the public.

At issue? The millions of dollars invested by the chemical industry into passing legislation that would essentially require the use of harmful chemicals in furniture, electronics, foam baby products and more (they also actively worked against bills to ban toxic flame retardants). We’re concerned about flame retardants because they are often linked with harmful health effects like cancer, neurotoxicity, reduced fertility and thyroid hormone disruption.

And as if that weren’t enough, the series went on to highlight how Big Tobacco actively worked with the chemical industry to promote the use of harmful flame retardants in furniture, all so they wouldn’t have to produce a self-extinguishing cigarette (the cause of many-a-house fire in the 1980s).

How did they do it? They established an industry front group to advocate their cause, misrepresented the science on flame retardants, and paid a burn doctor to testify about infant burn victims, whose lives might have been saved by the use of chemical flame retardants (his story has been thoroughly discredited).

Clearly, American families are up against corporate giants when it comes to protecting out health from toxic chemicals. We need to act now to do something about it! Consumer education isn’t enough. We need to demand that our products be safe and tested before they hit store shelves.

Today, hundreds of moms, cancer survivors and advocates are in DC to demand passage of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would make corporations responsible for the safety of the chemicals they create and use in their products. It’s about time!

Send a message to our Minnesota Senators Klobuchar (Facebook and Twitter: @amyklobuchar) and Franken (Facebook and Twitter: @AlFranken) to thank them for their support of this legislation and urge them to continue to be leaders in protecting our health!

  1. Sample Facebook message: @Amy Klobuchar, thank you for co-authoring the Safe Chemicals Act! We need to protect Minnesota families by making sure chemicals are safe and tested before they end up in our products. I hope you’ll continue to be a leader in protecting our health!
  2. Sample Twitter message: @AlFranken thx for your support of the #SafeChemicalsAct! 120k+ signatures delivered 2 the senate in support of the bill #StrollerBrigade

Until Congress steps up and passes the Safe Chemicals Act, here’s a tip to help you reduce your exposure to flame retardants:

Tip: Avoid furniture that has a label stating it meets CA flame retardant TB 117, an outdated standard that requires excessive amounts of flame retardants be added to furniture foam. You can also reduce exposure to flame retardants that end up in household dust by mopping floors frequently and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

 Photo from John Niedermeyer on flickr.


My mom: my motivation to work for safer chemicals and a healthier future for my family

By Tanwi Prigge, Maple Grove, Minnesota

Mom Me and RainaI am an Indian woman who came to US to study on a scholarship when I was 19 years old. I’m an IT professional and a US citizen, married to an American and a mother of a 3 year-old daughter. Being a mother has opened my eyes to so many dangers our kids face very early on and I cannot help but think of all the traditions and safe housekeeping my mother practiced to keep her family safe.  

When my daughter was born, my mother came to visit from India and in her luggage she carried cotton quilts, wooden and cloth toys, stainless steel utensils (some new and some as old as me!) cotton pillows, a gold necklace and lots of homemade baby items all made from natural materials. She told me that my first and foremost responsibility was to protect my child from all harm and that sentiment stuck with me.

Childhood memories

When I think back on my childhood, I remember my mother always cooking in stainless steel cookware, some of which has lasted for many years and now has been passed down to me. Even though her friends had their “new,” “revolutionary,” “modern,” and expensive non-stick cookware, she trusted her steel cookware more. Now, with what we know about the chemicals in those pans, I am glad she kept using time-tested and safe options.

And it wasn’t just in the kitchen that she avoided products filled with synthetic chemicals. We played with rag dolls and their matching outfits my grandma made of cotton and wool. We had cloth diapers and the changing pads were small quilts that were constantly washed and rotated…no wonder we were all potty trained before our first birthday!

How do we get out of this toxic mess?

Although I live in one of the most powerful and richest countries in the world with all the modern amenities one can imagine, I keep going back to the things that were safe and made with few synthetic chemicals for the sake of my family.

I strongly believe that parents can do a lot to protect their children from chemical hazards by making some simple changes to their lifestyle. I have eliminated unnecessary cleaning products, personal products, garden pesticides, pet care and household insect control. I have become a conscientious purchaser when buying household goods, children’s toys, pet food, clothing and cookware.

But changing our own behavior isn’t enough!

526681_10150796217716744_101152936743_10014513_1707973136_nOur government also plays a role in protecting public health from toxins. Other countries are taking this issue very seriously and are continuously working to regulate these harmful chemicals, especially in children’s products. Just as a mother’s foremost responsibility is to protect her children, our government’s responsibility should be to protect its citizens. I hope you’ll join me in standing by the Federal Safe Chemicals Act S. 847—we need our elected officials to do the right thing!

Tanwi Prigge migrated to the United States from India on a student scholarship at the age of 19. She is an IT professional with lots of energy and a passion to work for the common good through volunteer work and active involvement in the community. 



Lessons from my mom: Honoring toxic-free traditions this mother's day

By Caitlin Seath 

Mother silhouetteI grew up in the Canadian countryside and there my mom always made everything from scratch. She would often use recipes from her mom, my grandma. Even though she was raising the three of us on her own, she always made everything. How she found the energy, I will never know.

She passed that knowledge onto me before I started my own family. My first child came 4 weeks early, and within the first three months of life we knew that something was going on with his skin. We discovered that he had severe eczema; it was something that his dad had also suffered with.  We took that knowledge from my mom and grandmother and changed the way we cleaned, the products we used on our skin, and the food we ate.

Lessons learned

We used a vinegar recipe passed down from my grandma to clean almost everything. We had to special order clothes for our son made from 100% organic cotton. The typical baby products that are in stores may have smelled great, but they wreaked havoc on our baby's skin. The chemicals in these products provoked a burning, rash symptom. I was disgusted that our government even allowed such ingredients to be deemed safe to add to everyday products. We really had to become aware of what ingredients were safe and what to steer clear of.

When our son turned one, he had a birthday cake that he couldn't eat. We discovered the hard way that he was allergic to eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. He started going into shock. Luckily my husband and I had an antihistamine to give him and a quick ride to the hospital. Now we had to be vigilant about food. I don't know what I would've done without my mom, she helped us through all of our ups and downs, and gave us the knowledge to raise a healthy little boy.

I feel very lucky that I always had a fountain of information before we had our son. It could have been a lot harder. Fortunately we were already knowledgeable about foods and ingredients so we didn't have to change our lifestyle too much.

Finding safe products

The hurdle that we always and still do run into is being able to find safe products and food to purchase here in Minnesota. Luckily I could once again count on my mom. She still lives in Canada, so we would have her bring us a lot of the clothing and other products from there. We would also send away for various things from Europe. Their laws are stricter when it comes to having safe ingredients in their products. I see other countries protecting the health of children and I wonder why our government thinks it is acceptable to expose our children to harmful ingredients.

I know that our state is starting to take protective action in the vacuum of federal restrictions. I can only hope that it will get better.

Today, my son's eczema is under control, and my mom and I are creating new recipes for future birthday cakes!

Take Action

We can't shop our way out of this problem--in order to have safe, toxic-free products, we need the government to take action to protect our health. Join with the thousands of people who support chemical policy reform by signing the petition for the Safe Chemicals Act today!



Looking to manage pesky weeds the toxic-free way?

WeedMain copyIt seems that, after an April full of wacky weather in Minnesota, we may be on the track to the warm and sunny (and humid!) days of summer. And with summer, of course, comes yard and garden care. So get your gloves ready—Healthy Legacy has some great tips to start your summer right!

Let’s tackle a common source of frustration first: weeds. For many of us trying to manage green spaces without the use of harmful chemicals, weeds that return and multiply each and every year can be a sore subject (quite literally, too, when you spend the day pulling them by hand!) This tip will help you prevent future weeds in grassy spaces, for those of you that have them:

Tip: Apply corn gluten in the spring and fall to manage weeds. It won’t kill existing weeds, but prevents new ones from sprouting. It will become more effective with each application.

Remember: Corn gluten will prevent ANY seed from sprouting, including grass seeds—so you shouldn’t apply it in an area where you are trying to seed grass effectively.

Our colleagues at also just released testing results that found toxic chemicals in many common garden products (like garden hoses, kneeling pads and more), so before you head to the store, take a look at the findings for tips on how to find the safest products. You can also read the highlights of the findings on the Healthy Legacy website.

Dreading the need to clean the toxic products out of your shed? Sign the petition to congress demanding that they protect our families from toxic chemicals.

You can also download our Natural Lawn and Garden Care factsheet that has more tips for keeping your lawn healthy and non-toxic.



Liar, liar, pants on fire?

A new watchdog series at the Chicago Tribune looks in depth at the use of toxic flame retardants in furniture and other foam products. What did they find? A history of deception, questionable testimony and industry front groups that have invested millions in deceiving the general public about the need for these harmful chemicals. It turns out that these chemicals don't effectively prevent fires, but likely do make smoke from fires more toxic.

This video from the Chicago Tribune gives a great overview of their work.

Flame retardant video
The Chicago Tribune will continue to publish more information on this topic throughout the week, which you can find here.

In Minnesota, there are two flame retardants on the Priority Chemics list. You can use this factsheet to find tips on how to avoid them in children's products

But ultimately these harmful chemicals are ending up in consumer products because the current law on the books, the Toxic Substances Control Act, is broken and outdated--instead of protecting our health, it  allows thousands of chemicals to be used in products without being tested for safety. We deserve better. Will you take action today by signing the petition to support the Safe Chemicals Act


New Study Finds Toxic Chemicals in Gardening Products

By Kim LaBo, Healthy Legacy Organizer at Clean Water Action Minnesota.

Chemicals in Hoses Leach into Water, Study Finds

image from salsa.democracyinaction.orgHigh amounts of lead, phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA ) were found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days, according to a report co-released today by the Minnesota based Healthy Legacy Coalition and Healthy Stuff. Results are available online today at

Nearly 200 hoses, gloves, kneeling pads and tools were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC); phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA).  Such chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems. 

“During the summer, many children drink from garden hoses, run through sprinklers and wade in kiddie pools that contain water contaminated with toxic chemicals,” stated Deanna White, Clean Water Action state director and Healthy Legacy Coalition co-director. “Children’s health is being put at risk yet again because current laws do not ensure products are safe.” 

Testing Highlights

  1. screened 179 common garden products, including garden hoses (90); garden gloves (53); kneeling pads (13) and garden tools (23). Two-thirds (70.4%) of these products had chemical levels of “high concern.”
  2. 30% of all products contained over 100 ppm lead in one or more component.  100 ppm is the Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC) for lead in children’ products.
  3. 100% of the garden hoses sampled for phthalates contained four phthalate plasticizers which are currently banned in children’s products.
  4. Two water hoses contained the hazardous flame retardant 2,3,4,5-tetrabromo-bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (TBPH).

Harmful Chemicals End Up in Water

  1. Water sampled from one hose contained 0.280 mg/l (ppm) lead.  This is 18-times higher than the federal drinking water standard of 0.015 mg/l. 
  2. BPA levels of 2.3 ppm were found in the hose water.  This level is 20-times higher than the 0.100 ppm safe drinking water level used by NSF to verify that consumers are not being exposed to levels of a chemical that exceed regulated levels. 
  3. The phthalate DEHP was found at 0.025 ppm in the hose water. This level is 4-times higher than federal drinking water standards.  EPA and FDA regulate DEHP in water at 0.006 mg/l (ppm).

What You Can Do

  1. Read the labels: Avoid hoses with a California Prop 65 warning that says “this product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.”  Buy hoses that are “drinking water safe” and “lead-free”.
  2. Let it run: Always let your hose run for a few seconds before using, since the water that’s been sitting in the hose will have the highest levels of chemicals.
  3. Avoid the sun: Store your hose in the shade. The heat from the sun can increase the leaching of chemicals from the PVC into the water.
  4. Don't drink water from a hose: Unless you know for sure that your hose is drinking water safe, don’t drink from it.  Even low levels of lead may cause health problems.
  5. Buy a PVC-free hose: Polyurethane or natural rubber hoses are better choices.  Visit for sample products.
  6. Support passage of the Safe Chemicals Act: Harmful chemicals are ending up in consumer products because the Toxic Substances Control Act, passed into law over 35 years ago, is outdated and ineffective.

“Even if you are an organic gardener, doing everything you can to avoid pesticides and fertilizers, you still may be introducing hazardous substances into your soil by using these products,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center.

Healthy Legacy