Jenn Rogers is the Director of Programs and Policy of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (www.rhtp.org), a national advocacy organization located in Washington, D.C.
This past Monday night, I lay in bed trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep, plagued with anxiety. It wasn’t, alas, pre-holiday stress or fear that my holiday party would be a bust, although those kinds of personal tensions aren’t dissimilar to what I was feeling.
Instead, the nervousness I was feeling was professional. The next morning, on Tuesday, December 15th, my organization, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, was partnering with theAssociation of Reproductive Health Professionals and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Campaign to host our first legislative briefing on toxic chemicals and their impact on reproductive health. We had planned every detail and secured amazing speakers but, seeing as this was the first major event we’ve planned on this topic, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately, my worries were for naught. In attendance: 80. Yes, 80 people came to the briefing and learned how chemicals in our everyday products are threatening our reproductive health and fertility.
- The number of women experiencing difficulty in conceiving and having a successful pregnancy are increasing: Among 15-24 year olds, the percent of women with impaired fecundity has risen 90% in the last twenty years.
- Male fertility is changing too, for example, some areas in the U.S. are reporting declines in testosterone levels among men, reporting a 10% decrease over 20 years.
- Newborn babies are born with up to 300 chemicals in their bodies. And new research is finding that chemical exposure can cause a variety of negative impacts on fetal and infant development.
- Pregnant women (and their growing babies) exposed to dangerous chemicals can face higher risk of infertility or reduced fertility, fetal death or miscarriage, decreased birth weight, birth defects, and childhood cancer such as leukemia
The problem is serious—and scary—but, in early 2010, Congress is expected to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act, which hasn’t been updated since 1976. In my opinion, it can’t come soon enough. As the President of RHTP, Kirsten Moore, eloquently said at the briefing, [pullquote]/“Although many Americans are doing their best to stay informed and shop wisely, we need companies to disclose what’s in their products and for the government to test all chemicals for safety.”/[/pullquote]
As with any holiday celebration, good friends and teamwork are necessary for success. RHTP is proud to be working with the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition to ensure that real, meaningful reform takes place so we can help improve the health, especially the reproductive health, of all Americans. And we were thrilled so many congressional staffers and health advocates were in attendance so that together we can update our laws and improve our nation’s health. I hope we can give the gift of safer chemical policy to everyone soon in the coming New Year.