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Sippy cups and stethoscopes. Strollers and senators.

That’s how the day goes when you bring parents and nurses to the halls of Congress to advocate for safer chemicals.

We made a big impact in the fight for stronger chemical policy at our Stroller Brigade, with over 80 meetings on the hill, face time with 25 Members of Congress and we even saw Facebook posts from Senate staffers declaring “meeting with the babies” the best part of their day.

When Safer Chemicals Healthy Families held our Stroller Brigade for Safer Chemicals in Washington DC, we brought hundreds of parents, kids, educators, environmental justice leaders and health care professionals to Capitol Hill to put a human face on the need for reform of the 37 year old Toxic Substances Control Act.

Jennifer Beals and teamIn more than eighty offices in the House and Senate, moms like Shane from Orlando talked about the need for government leadership on toxic chemicals (Watch Shane’s great interview about the topic here).

Nurses, like Susan from New Mexico, told the stories of the patients they care for who are experiencing cancers far more frequently than they were taught to expect in nursing school. Environmental justice leaders like Michele talked about the community impacts fenceline communities face. Educators like Angelique from Springfield, MO talked to her Senators about the increasing numbers of children that she works with who struggle with learning disabilities.

I got to accompany the Alaska delegation to a meeting with Senator Murkowski. The senator and her staff were very respectful of the thousands of miles that these six women had traveled to meet with her, and listened quite attentively as they talked about the traditional foods that they had tested and found contaminated with toxic chemicals, the far greater than average numbers of cancers that their communities are suffering, and the resolution from the Alaska Federation of Natives urging the Alaska Congressional delegation to “use the full power of their offices to urge Congress to transform.. (TSCA) by addressing the deficiencies in the Chemical Safety Improvement Act.”   

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Director Andy Igrejas and I joined a meeting with EPW Chair Barbara Boxer organized by the California delegation that included Jose Bravo from the Just Transition Alliance, Nourbese Flint from Black Women for Wellness, Catherine Porter of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and actress Jennifer Beals (pictured above). It was good to hear from Senator Boxer her plans to make the Senate bill stronger and more protective of public health.

Now it’s all about following up. With meetings in more than eighty offices, and face-to-face contacts with at least 25 members of Congress, we learned a lot about what it will take to convince Congress to support chemical policy reform that really protects our families. We’ll follow up in D.C. and in local communities as members of Congress head home for the next recess.

Thanks to all the Stroller Brigade participants for sharing your state’s unique reasons for wanting real reform of our toxic chemical laws.