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41 posts categorized "Protective Policies"


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.



Formaldehyde in children's products bill moves forward in MN State House

By Dan Endreson, Clean Water Action Minnesota

image from Minnesota House of Representatives recently voted to accept language to prohibit formaldehyde in children's products onto a larger Environment Omnibus bill.

During the 2012 Legislative Session, the Health Legacy coalition has been working on a policy to protect our kids from toxic chemicals and prohibit the use of formaldehyde in children’s products. Studies have found formaldehyde in children’s products such as crib sheets, clothing and personal care products. Short-term exposure to formaldehyde causes eye and respiratory irritation, and long-term exposure can cause cancer.

The State House of Representatives made the right decision in voting to accept the language to prohibit formaldehyde in children’s products onto the House Environment Omnibus bill on April 4. The vote was bipartisan, as 74 Democrats and Republicans joined together to ensure children’s products that are sold in Minnesota are free of formaldehyde. Will the Minnesota Senate join their colleagues in supporting this important policy as the Omnibus bill moves forward this week?

Photo by: TBoard on flickr.


In bed with Formaldehyde? A known carcinogen in some textiles

IStock_000012222942SmallLast week, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted in favor of a ban on formaldehyde in children’s products by adding it to the Environment Omnibus bill. And we say: it’s about time! Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that is used in everyday products from composite wood furniture to baby shampoo to clothing.

And (big surprise) it’s usually not on the label, especially in the case of textiles. (In personal care products, you can look for “quaternium-15” which is the preservative that can release formaldehyde over time). So how can we avoid exposure to this harmful chemical? Unfortunately, there’s no way to shop ourselves out of this problem, because the use of toxics in everyday products is widespread. What we really need is comprehensive reform that will ensure the products we buy are safe before they hit store shelves.

In the meantime, though, here’s a tip on how to reduce exposure to formaldehyde in textiles.

Tip: Make sure to wash new clothes and linens before wearing or using to reduce formaldehyde levels.

Formaldehyde is sometimes added to textiles like crib sheets. Wrinkle-free clothing is also often treated with formaldehyde. Washing them before you use them (and washing them frequently thereafter) can help to reduce levels of the chemical.

Does the prospect of formaldehyde in crib sheets make you as frustrated as it makes us? Sign the petition to congress demanding that they protect our families from toxic chemicals.

You can also download our Quick Tips to Avoid Toxins factsheet that has more tips for avoiding the nine Minnesota Priority Chemicals.


Valentine's Day at the capitol: A tale of two moms

This past Valentine's Day, Healthy Legacy took to the state capitol with a group of parents, kids and concerned citizens to talk to legislators about supporting policies that will protect the health of Minnesota children from toxic chemicals.

Two of our participants chronicled their day at the capitol to share it with all of you. Take a look!

Meredith: mom-to-be and Advocate at The Arc Greater Twin Cities


Meredith portrait

Ingredients for a perfect Valentine’s Day:  Flowers, chocolate…and a visit to the Minnesota State Capitol?! That’s right, folks, my V-Day included a trip to our Capitol building because I love Minnesota’s kids and want our fine state to implement policies to keep icky toxins out of their bodies. Read more from Meredith


Martha: mom and Resource Development Director for LDA Minnesota

Martha and son

Trying to explain to my 4-year-old what we were doing at the State Capitol on Valentine’s Day was a “parenting challenge.”  ...explaining why there are harmful chemicals in the stuff we buy at stores blew his mind.  “What?! How could that be?” was what his response would have been if he had found the words to match his incredulous expression. Read more from Martha


The perfect Valentine's Day

By Meredith Salmi-Bydalek, The Arc Greater Twin Cities

Meredith portrait

Ingredients for a perfect Valentine’s Day:  Flowers, chocolate…and a visit to the Minnesota State Capitol?! That’s right, folks, my V-Day included a trip to our Capitol building because I love Minnesota’s kids and want our fine state to implement policies to keep icky toxins out of their bodies.

At this year’s Healthy Legacy Day at the Capitol, concerned parents and citizens delivered heart-shaped Valentines to the state’s lawmakers asking them to support two pieces of legislation:  One, removing formaldehyde from children’s products in Minnesota and two, requiring companies to report if their products include one of the Minnesota Department of Health’s nine priority chemicals.

As in years past, I attended as an advocate with The Arc Greater Twin Cities, a local advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The Arc Greater Twin Cities is a proud member of Healthy Legacy because we believe products should not contain chemicals that are proven developmental toxins. With disabilities like autism on the rise, it’s essential we take a hard look at all the chemicals we’re exposed to in everyday products.

Meredith full photo

However, this year I got to wear another proud hat as well:  Expectant mom. Having a baby girl due in May has made it even clearer to me the need for chemical reform in our state and country. Despite my knowledge of what chemicals go into children’s products, I’ve found that many just cannot be avoided and it makes putting a nursery together a scary thing. What’s even more frightening, though, is that alternatives to toxic chemicals do exist, but manufacturers have not been pressed to use those safer alternatives. That’s where all of us come in. We must demand that our elected officials stick up for Minnesota’s kids and show them some love by passing laws that remove toxins from the products all of our kids use every day.

You can see more from our day at the capitol in this cute video!

Valentines, the state capitol and a "parenting challenge"

By Martha Moriarty, LDA Minnesota


Trying to explain to my 4-year-old what we were doing at the State Capitol on Valentine’s Day was a “parenting challenge.”  Firstly, trying to describe who and what state lawmakers are and why we lobby them probably flew right over his little head (he’s a smart kid, but do most adults get these concepts?).  And secondly, explaining why there are harmful chemicals in the stuff we buy at stores blew his mind.  “What?! How could that be?” was what his response would have been if he had found the words to match his incredulous expression.

As we walked into the Capitol building and appreciated the beauty of its vastness and decorative halls, my little guy acted just as any 4-year old would, he liked to hear his echo in the halls and run as fast as he could through the wide, open spaces.  I, on the other hand, worried about the meeting with my legislator and making sure I was prepared to speak on the issues.

As a staff person at LDA Minnesota, I am concerned about the effects of toxins on all of our citizens, particularly the chemicals that affect brain development and can lead to learning disabilities and learning challenges.  But closer to home, as a parent I worry about my child and his health.  Will the formaldehyde in the shampoo I used on his head when he was a baby affect his health later in life?  Am I purchasing a product that has toxins I am unaware of, that could affect his brain development?  As any parent will tell you, I just want my child to grow up to be healthy and happy. 

He certainly was happy during our Healthy Legacy Day at the Capitol.  He sang his “planets” song for the media camera, wished our legislator “Happy Valentine’s Day,” and proudly passed out his Valentine’s to our lawmakers.  He calmed my nerves when it was time to talk to our Representative by squeezing my hand extra tight upon our meeting.  We had a fun day of lobbying and he asked me as we were leaving if we could come back and play again soon.

Catch a glimpse of Martha and her son in this cute video from our day at the capitol:


Time to Rethink Flame Retardants

By Meredith Salmi-Bydalek, The Arc Greater Twin Cities

ImageThink all those children’s products in your house are safe? Think again. A new report released by the Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States finds an alarming rate of toxic flame retardants are being used in children’s products sold in major retailers across the country. The groups tested 20 children’s products at Duke University containing polyurethane foam, which is often treated with flame retardants, including changing pads, car seats, and nursing pillows. Researchers found toxic flame retardants in 17 of the 20 products, and 16 of these products included chemicals from the “Tris” family. 

The most common Tris flame retardant found in these products was chlorinated Tris, or TDCPP. Sound familiar? It was phased out of children’s pajamas in the 1970’s due to health concerns and has made an alarming comeback as a replacement flame retardant for penta-BDE (banned in MN and other states). Studies have shown it to mutate some cell lines, disrupt hormones, and cause harm to the nervous system. Yikes!

These toxic flame retardants are not chemically bound to the products they’re used in, meaning they end up in household air and dust. Any parent knows that children love to explore their surroundings by crawling on the floor and putting anything in their mouths. This means their chances of exposure to icky chemicals like chlorinated Tris are much higher.  

Surprisingly, the only state with flammability standards is California. Other states do not have similar standards, nor require the use of flame retardants. The only exception is car seats which are monitored for flammability by federal standards. So what’s a parent or concerned citizen to do?

Alternatives do exist but are limited and take some work to find.  Busy parents don’t have time to research each product before shopping to ensure it is safe. What we really need is  reform of our current chemical laws to ensure that one toxic chemical isn’t replaced by another in children’s products and our kids are kept safe. The Safe Chemicals Act currently making its way through U.S. Congress will do just that:  Phase out the most toxic, persistent chemicals used in everyday products. 


Companies report use of toxic chemicals in products

Overlay-poison-bgA new report out from the Environmental Health Strategy Center, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and SAFER States shares information about the use of two chemicals, bisphenol A (BPA) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in household products.

The information was obtained through reporting required on these chemicals under the 2008 Kids Safe Products Act.

Major findings:

  1. 280 plastic toys sold in Maine contained BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical that is linked to several harmful health effects, including: breast and prostate cancer, early onset puberty, reproductive harm, diabetes and obesity.
  2. NPEs were reported in 291 household paints and at least 69 other products, like cleaners, wood stains, and caulking. NPEs are also hormone disrupters and have been linked with reproductive damage.
  3. Some companies may not be reporting as required under the Maine law. Several companies that manufacture baby food did not report BPA in food packaging, although the chemical continues to be used in the lids of baby food jars.
  4. Safer alternatives are gaining traction. Three manufacturers of infant formula reported that they have phased out the use of BPA in the lining of metal cans containing formula.

Perhaps one of the most significant conclusions of the report is that state chemical policy is a proven and effective tool and has successfully begun to fill data gaps on the use of chemicals of concern in products.

But there is more to be done. This report also shows us once again that our federal system for regulating chemicals is badly broken. Is that something you want to change? You can take action now by sending a holiday card to congress!



Trouble in Toyland Report Finds Lead and Phthalates

By Meredith Salmi-Bydalek, The Arc Greater Twin Cities

Trouble-in-toyland_20111122152529_320_240Shopping during the holiday season can definitely be stressful, and nowadays parents are often left with the challenge of not only finding the perfect gift, but also navigating through a sea of unregulated toxic toys to get there.

Unfortunately, a recent report by the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) Education Fund reiterates that we still need to be extra cautious when picking out toys off the shelf.

The annual Trouble in Toyland report investigates safety of toys currently on the market. Researchers visited national toy stores, malls and dollar stores looking for toys that could pose a potential risk to young children, from exposure to toxic chemicals to choking hazards. Despite recent efforts to limit the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products, what researchers found might surprise you.

What did they find?

Though banned since 1978 in products marketed to children, lead, a known neurotoxin affecting children’s development, can still be found in imported toys. From October 2010 through November 2011, almost 200,000 toys were recalled in the United States due to lead content that exceeded federal limits. Researchers found that a handful of toys investigated exceeded current federal limits and several others exceeded standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Phthalates were also found to be used in alarming rates in toys. Phthalates are additives used to improve the flexibility of products including toys. Exposure to phthalates in the womb or during development has been linked to reproductive harm. The current federal standards sets the maximum amount of three different phthalates at 1,000 parts per million (ppm). Researchers found toys that had 42,000 ppm and 77,000 ppm of various phthalates.

How you can avoid troublesome toys:

Even though dangerous chemicals still exist in some children’s toys, your holiday season doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. The report also releases these tips so that you can be a discerning consumer.

Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to completely avoid toxics in consumer products until Congress passes the Safe Chemicals Act, legislation that will require chemical manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are safe before they end up on store shelves. So give the gift that keeps on giving and take action to support the Safe Chemicals Act today!


Ready, Set...Stroller Brigade!

Today, moms and kids across the country are taking to the streets with their strollers and demanding that their senators support the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill introduced by Senator Lautenberg that will reform the broken and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.

 Comprehensive chemical policy reform will benefit us all, and these Minnesotans are letting us in on just a few of the many reasons we need to get toxic chemicals out of our lives!

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families will be live all-day on Facebook, dishing out non-toxic living tips and we'll be there to join in the fun. Join us!

You can also track the stroller brigades on twitter by searching #StrollerBrigade.

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