News To Remember From 2011

by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Executive Director/CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

Can you believe it’s almost 2012?! Not only is the approaching New Year momentous to us as an organization, it marks a big occasion for me: My son will officially become a teenager on January 1st. I can’t believe it’s been 13 amazing years since I first became a parent!

So much has changed since then—unfortunately, our country’s policy on toxic chemicals isn’t one of them. The top stories of 2011 are those that Healthy Child has been following as an organization for years now, including:

MERCURY

In August, we reported on the more than 800,000 comments submitted in support of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, a new Environmental Protection Agency ruling that would be the first-ever national policy to regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired plants, which are currently the single largest source of mercury pollution, accounting for 25% of all toxic metal emissions in the United States. Mercury is a serious problem because it can affect the human nervous system—especially in babies and young children—potentially damaging vision, coordination and speech, among other things. Happily, the new standards were unveiled last week, setting the first-ever national limits on mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants. Go team!

BISPHENOL A

Also that month, we provided a BPA update for parents concerned about the endocrine disruptor in bottles, cans and even cash register receipts. Our petition to Campbell’s to get BPA out of their soup cans—especially those marketed to children—led to ongoing discussions with the company, and is now at nearly 18,000 signatures. (Haven’t signed yet? Click here and pass it on to help us reach our goal of 25,000 signatures and delivery to Campbell’s in January 2012!)

Happily on that front, due to landmark legislation passed in Connecticut two years ago, starting on October 11, 2011 – the main infant formula manufacturers have stopped using BPA in the lining of their cans! It’s one less source of exposure (and a super important one), but we still have a long way to go…

GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

In September, we looked at food labeling, especially as it related to GMOs, which are now in 70% of processed foods on supermarket shelves—many under a misleading “all-natural” label. And, in October, we joined forces with the Just Label It campaign. Collectively, we’ve gathered over 400,000 comments to the FDA to demand labeling of genetically modified foods!

SAFER CHEMICALS

But my favorite story was probably the one that we published in October, urging moms to stroller march in support of The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, a proposed update to the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.

Sadly, despite the fact that this year seven states passed nine new toxic chemical policies, which were supported by 99% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans, the Safe Chemicals Act has not yet been passed by the Senate.

Get ready to do some serious marching in 2012.

P.S. If you haven’t sent a letter to Congress urging passage of the Safe Chemicals Act yet, you can do so with a mouse click. Seriously. Will you add your voice here?

Photo courtesy Abhisek Sarda / CC BY 2.0