It has been a busy day so far. We gathered this morning excited to join the National Safer Chemicals Lobby Day and Stroller Brigade. Maine proudly brought the largest contingent of advocates and we made quite an entrance with our rally cries. All eyes and news cameras were on us as we joined a few hundred advocates just below the Capitol building. We had signs, matching t-shirts and were ready to march!
The press event began and I was joyously surprised to have the opportunity to hear Senator Lautenberg – the sponsor of the Safe Chemicals Act – speak to all of us. The passion and commitment he has for the issue was obvious. His words were moving and awe inspiring. He said we have to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act because “the status quo is dangerous and unacceptable” and that we “shouldn’t have to wait for an epidemic.” He believes that we would have little to worry about if chemicals were tested before entering the marketplace. The icing on the cake was when this amazing man said that we – the moms, the advocates and children – are what give him courage. Pretty inspiring especially coming from the first lawmaker to take on Big Tobacco!
We also heard from Senators Durbin and Schumer. Senator Durbin from Illinois said the “campaign of marketing and deception” by the chemical industry has to stop. Senator Schumer of New York acknowledged that there is nothing that eats at a mom more than worrying about the health of their children.
Maine’s own Hannah Pingree spoke and kicked off the March. She reminded us that you don’t have to live near a chemical company to be exposed to toxic chemicals. Hannah was raised on a rural Maine island and was found to have high levels of chemicals in her system when she participated in the “Body of Evidence” study.
The entire rally was amazing but i think it is safe to say that what moved me the most was a mother of 3 from Michigan. Her courage to share her story inspired me and provided another reminder of the absolute necessity for chemical reform. She lost her husband to a non genetic form of cancer and one of her 3 sons had a non genetic birth defect. She feels strongly that there is a compelling link to their health issues and chemical exposure. Throughout her speech her young son stood by her side hugging her and lovingly rubbing her back. It brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of my own two girls at home who are also so brave and lovIng when I need it most. As moms we work so hard to protect our children, but wow- they protect us and hold us up, too!
This amazing Michigan mom echoed the frustration I feel and have heard so much from my fellow advocates on this trip. “I know better now, but I can’t do better without help.” Finally she asked, “How long must we wait? How long will we continue this grotesque chemical experiment?”
These questions are exactly what we will be asking our congressional delegation today! More to come this evening…