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Written by:  Odile Fredericks
Date: June 12, 2012

Are you worried that your kids are being exposed to toxic chemicals in products they use every day? Just about everyone is checking to avoid BPA in water bottles these days. But unless you're a chemist, it's difficult to know from the label if a product contains a toxic substance or not.

This Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m., NC MomsRising, which advocates for families, and Toxic Free NC, which fights pesticide pollution, are inviting families to a fun event in downtown Raleigh designed to push for toxic chemical reform.  They're hoping the event, "Toxic Free Kids Olympics" in the Children's Garden, at 301N. Wilmington St., near the N.C. General Assembly, will urge legislators to champion efforts to pass legislation that makes products safer for children.

Their concern? A law passed in 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act, opened the floodgates to allow 62,000 chemicals into manufacturing, but only about 200 of them have been tested for safety. The two organizations are concerned that the products kids use, from furniture to canned foods to toys, put them at health risks that include higher cancer rates. Infants and children are sensitive to toxic chemical exposure because their bodies are not fully developed and their ability to get rid of toxic residues is immature.

At the "Toxic Free Kids Olympics" on Wednesday, children and parents will have a chance to earn medals in Olympic-themed events with names like the "Toxic Tub Toy Toss," the "Jumping through Hoops to Keep My Family Safe" obstacle course and the "Find the Hidden Toxic Chemicals" relay. They'll also be writing messages to send NC elected leaders about why they need help to protect their families from toxic chemicals.

In late May, Toxic Free NC and NC MomsRising took part in the Stroller Brigade, joining hundreds of concerned moms from across the U.S. who traveled to Washington, D.C., to sign petitions calling on Congress to pass U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg's "Safe Chemicals Act." The bill is designed to protect Americans from dangerous toxic chemicals in everyday consumer products. Here in Raleigh, Rep. Pricey Harrison is among the primary sponsors of the N.C. Toxic-Free Kids Act, a bill that aims to safeguard kids from the health dangers of toxic chemicals in kids products by prohibiting the manufacture and sale of kids products containing BPA, Tris flame retardants and phthalates among other efforts. Tris flame retardants are known to cause cancer and were banned from children's pajamas in the 1970s, but are still used widely in products like nursing pillows, crib mattresses and car seats, according to Toxic Free NC. BPA has been implicated in triggering cancer and diabetes, and phthalates are associated with male birth defects, thyroid disorders and male reproductive problems, according to the group.

The bill is currently in committee, but Rep. Harrison hopes it will move out of committee this session and be passed, according to her legislative assistant Sue Osborne. At 11 a.m. Wednesday, immediately following the "Toxic Free Kids Olympics," Rep. Harrison will hold a press conference on the bill, which she said addresses a serious problem which Congress has failed to resolve.

"There are tens of thousands of untested chemicals on the market today," Rep. Harrison said in a statement. "We can't allow chemical companies to treat our children's health like some laboratory experiment."

Updated June 12, 2:30 p.m.



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