Last week, West Virginians were unable to drink their tap water because of a chemical spill. Unfortunately, some already had ingested it by the time of the alert, including pregnant women and children. But none of us is protected from environmental toxins like these. So little testing has been done on the more than 100,000 synthetic chemicals in production in the U.S., that there was virtually no information available on the chemical spilled in West Virginia. We have a right to know about the health consequences of the chemicals we are exposed to each and every day and that contaminate our children from the moment they are conceived. I encourage you to write your congressional representatives to plead for reform of the existing law regulating toxic chemicals, the Toxic Substance Control Act (TCSA). The law is so toothless that only five chemicals have ever been banned under it, and the ban on asbestos was rescinded in the courts in 1991. Chemical companies have all the protection, and everyday Americans none; chemical companies stand to lose profits if regulations are improved; ordinary citizens are in danger of losing their lives if they are not.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the best non-profit research and education groups out there, makes it easy to tell legislators how you feel, but we need to do it in numbers for any chance of success. There were high hopes for reform in 2009, but they were dashed by opposition generated by well-funded corporations. If you go to http://action.ewg.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=2052&tag=201401TSCAActionFWD&utm_source=201401tscaactionfwd&utm_medium=email&utm_content=topperer&utm_campaign=food, you will find everything you need to contact your representatives. Please do customize your letter for maximum impact. If you have a story, tell it.
Here's what I wrote:
As your constituent and a supporter of Environmental Working Group, I am writing to demand real reform of our broken chemical safety laws.
Any chemical reform legislation must include the same safety standard that applies to pesticides in order to ensure public health and safety; priority review of chemicals that show up in umbilical cord blood and our bodies; clear deadlines for chemical safety assessments and protection of the states' ability to act when the federal government lacks the courage or capacity to do so.
My daughter died from leukemia caused by exposure to environmental chemicals, pesticides specifically, and I can tell you -- this crisis should be much higher on the priority list. The Toxic Substance Control Act is so weak as to be entirely ineffectual. Only five substances have ever been banned under its jurisdiction. The EPA is powerless to ban chemicals it knows are dangerous. Americans have virtually no protection from environmental contaminants, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the President's Cancer Panel, environmental chemicals are a major and unacknowledged cause of disease in children and adults: cancer, autism, ADHD, lower IQs, diabetes, birth defects, and auto-immune disease. Please read these reports at http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualReports/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf
Please, do all you can to remedy this terrible assault on our children, every one of whom is now born with approximately 200 toxic chemicals in their blood -- neurotoxins, carcinogens, mutagens, and hormone disruptors.