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Posted on Tue, May 22, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

Ann Arbor mom joins 'stroller brigade' in Washington for stronger chemical laws

By Amy Biolchini

0522_MI Moms 4 Safety.jpg

A sign demonstrators from Michigan held at the "stroller brigade" Tuesday afternoon in Washington D.C. A group of concerned mothers from across the country marched on the capitol to push lawmakers to adopt a more stringent set of rules to govern industrial chemicals.

Courtesy photo

Mothers from across the nation pushed strollers and an agenda in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Tuesday, calling for lawmakers to pass the Safe Chemicals Act.

Environmental advocates are calling the act a long-overdue update to the existing Toxic Substances Control Act, which was passed in 1976 and governs industrial chemicals.

Among the members of the "stroller brigade" was Ann Arbor mom Sara Talpos and her 5-year-old son, Jackson.

When Jackson was born in 2006, Talpos discovered that a pair of his baby boots contained lead, arsenic and cadmium and had been recalled by the manufacturer.


Sara Talpos and her son, Jackson, of Ann Arbor stand next to Lori Parks of the Learning Disabilities Association in Plymouth and Polly Schlaff of Manistee in front of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Tuesday afternoon during the stroller brigade.

Courtesy photo

“As a new parent, this was very disturbing to me,” Talpos said.

After doing more research on some of the children's toys she had around the house, Talpos said she found that many of them contained chemicals she didn't want her child exposed to.

"It's an issue you can't really solve on your own" Talpos said, noting she takes precautions to protect her child from products that may contain harmful chemicals at home, but can't control his environment at school.

"We really need to tackle this as a country and not as an individual consumer."

A national petition has garnered about 125,000 signatures as a show of support for the stricter bill to regulate chemicals in children's products.

Rebecca Meuninck, environmental health campaign director for the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, called for the passage of the new act.

"TSCA has failed to prevent the Great Lakes waterways, ecosystems and people from being contaminated by toxic chemicals," Meuninck said in a news release. "Exposure to toxic chemicals early in a child's life can increase their risk for some forms of cancer, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities, and other diseases."

Michigan mothers visited U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) and Carl Levin (D-Mich) Tuesday in their Washington offices.

The Safe Chemicals Act is awaiting a vote in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and is backed by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

Should the bill make it out of committee -- on which Stabenow and Levin do not sit -- Talpos said she thought it was likely that they would vote to pass it.

“For me, as someone who has cared about this issue for a long time, it was great to get to D.C. and realize that I’m not alone,” Talpos said.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Kristin Burgard

Tue, May 29, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

As a mother of two, I worry about the long term effects of toxins on children. Most parents know to lock up cleaning products, pesticides, etc. but assume that toys, baby bottles, kid's shoes, etc are not a health risk. By passing the Safe Chemicals Act we can be more confident that the products our kids are using won't cause a problem for them in the long run.

jason J

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

As a mother, I am concerned about the issue that my children's toys may not be safe. I appreciate that others are trying to move this issue forward & make a change towards a safer environment. Safeguarding our children's opportunity to grow & developed in an environment with as little exposure to toxic substances as possible is good for the individual children, the family & the community as a whole. Thank-you for covering this issue & thank-you to the families who went the extra mile in an effort to move this issue forward!


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

I think we go over board with the safety of the childrens toys. Why? Because I grew up with unsafe toys and I am totally fine as it is. I know my child got some of my toys and she is totally fine for what ever normal is for a teen.

Superior Twp voter

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

YES, by all means, more rules, regulations, and federal oversight over everything! We will certainly choke every citizen and business to certain death by regulations and political correctness.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

I am totally convinced that it is the cause of a lot of disabilities including Autism. Which is on the rise at a scary pace. I try to make all of my own cleaning stuff. Some is hard to let go of. Good luck. I too want to see this passed as well.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

If all the effort put into passing laws like this were put into promoting and buying safe, American-made products it would be much more effective and we wouldn't need our subject-to-regulatory-capture federal minders. Same goes for food, as Joel Salatin points out in his books. Trying to make third world slave labor toys safe via federal decree is unlikely to be effective.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:49 a.m.

I hope the Safe Chemicals Act passes. It's long past overdue that the chemicals used in manufacturing our everyday products actually need to be proven to be safe in order to be used. As it is now, the vast majority of chemicals are simply taken off the shelf (so to speak) only if they're proven to be unsafe, long after they've been in circulation and affecting anyone coming into contact with it. Passing the SCA would be a great first step in the right direction. Please, federal legislators, bring the relevant legislation out of the 1970's and into modern times.