Northeast Ohioans join 'Stroller Brigade' movement against toxic chemicals

CLEVELAND - Moms and cancer survivors pushing strollers converged on the U.S. Capitol Tuesday to demand stronger laws against the chemicals used to make products found in most homes. Products like cribs, changing tables, carpets.

The chemicals also are found in U.S. babies.

The Stroller Brigade movement gained steam following the investigative journalism series on the chemical industry by The Chicago Tribune. The series is called "Playing with Fire." The overview states, "The average American baby is born with 10 fingers, 10 toes and the highest recorded levels of flame retardants among infants in the world."

The investigative reports claim the chemical industry uses deceptive lobbying tactics to protect profits from toxic chemicals.

For example, formaldehyde was classified as a known human carcinogen by the Department of Health and Human Services last year. Yet companies use formaldehyde to manufacture particle board and carpets.

The Stroller Brigade wants Congress to regulate what chemicals are used in consumer goods, and at what levels.

On their Tuesday trip to Washington, D.C., activists brought petitions for their lawmakers to pass the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, set for debate later this month. It updates the current law from 1976, which activists said was too outdated for today's chemical industry.

Two Northeast Ohioans who are active in safer chemicals movement are Karen Towne, and nurse and cancer survivor from Kent, and Lee Geisse, with the United Steel Workers Local 1046 in Canton, according to a FitzGibbon Media representative, whose company works for the safer chemicals movement.

"I know the best way to fight cancer is to prevent it from developing in the first place," said Towne, in a news release. "We need government oversight on toxic chemicals - anything less than that is unacceptable."

Geisse said in the release concern also surrounds Ohio workers, not only babies. "We deserve the right to go to work and not be exposed to highly toxic chemicals."

To learn more about the movement to pass the Safer Chemicals Act, visit saferchemicals.org .

You can find people with similar interests on Twitter using #strollerbrigade .

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