Stroller Brigade Planned After Newspaper Exposes Chemical Industry Deception

Hundreds of moms and cancer survivors from across the country are flying and taking buses into Washington, D.C., to take part in the National Stroller Brigade at the U.S. Capitol on May 22. The Brigade supports the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill designed to overhaul outdated laws governing toxic chemicals.

Mothers will be rallying together partly in response to some Chicago Tribune articles that found the chemical industry is using deceptive lobbying techniques to protect flame retardants and other toxic chemicals.

The event will begin with a press conference at 10 a.m. followed by the stroller brigade at 11. Moms from each state also will deliver thousands of petition signatures asking their senators to support the act.

“The rise in childhood and young adult cancer is simply unacceptable,” said Lindsay Dahl, deputy director of the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Blog. “Learning and developmental disabilities are on the rise in alarming rates.”

Some mothers plan to hand contaminated nursing pillows to their senators with the message "This is unacceptable" written in magic marker.

So how bad is the deception? What is the Chicago Tribune saying about the chemicals?

One article describes how a flame retardant manufacturer stood before a crowd of California lawmakers and told a story about a 7-week-old girl who was severely burned after her pillow lacking flame retardant chemicals caught on fire. The manufacturer went on to tell other stories about infants who died in candle fires and fires in their cribs. Read the story here.

All his stories turned out to be lies.

“His testimony is part of a decades-long campaign of deception that has loaded the furniture and electronics in American homes with pounds of toxic chemicals linked to cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility,” The Tribune said.

The article says that deception began with the tobacco industry, which wanted to prove that cigarettes weren’t causing fires. Then, chemical companies wanted to ensure they could continue marketing their products.

“These powerful industries distorted science in ways that overstated the benefits of the chemicals, created a phony consumer watchdog group that stoked the public's fear of fire and helped organize and steer an association of top fire officials that spent more than a decade campaigning for their cause,” the article said.

What’s the damage?

The average American baby is born with more concentrations of flame retardants than any infants in the world, according to the article.

Hopefully, mothers and cancer survivors can get through to Congress and lawmakers at the Stroller Brigade and help change our laws.

We’ll give you an update after the event, which takes place on Tuesday.

Posted by Ariel Brouillard on May 18, 2012