By Ramona du Houx

May 21, 2012

Early Monday morning over two dozen Maine moms and activists boarded a bus for Washington DC to participate in a national ‘Stroller Brigade’ in support of safer chemicals. They are carrying 2,572 petition signatures and a resolution signed by Senate President Kevin Raye and House Minority Leader Emily Cain that was passed unanimously by the Legislature last month. Both documents call on Congress to modernize the federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) – a law that the moms say is outdated and ineffective at protecting children’s health from dangerous chemicals in everyday products.

“I am getting on the bus to represent the thousands of moms, dads, and grandparents across Maine who are tired of feeling frustrated and powerless about the use of dangerous chemicals in products our children come in contact with every day,” said Megan Rice, a mother of two from the town of China. “And when I get to Washington, I intend to ask our Senators and Representatives if they are standing with the chemical companies, or with Maine families and businesses, because Maine moms aren’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The moms are traveling all day Monday to join the “Safe Chemicals Brigade” on Tuesday, May 22nd that is taking place on the lawn of the US Capitol. Hundreds of moms from around the country are expected to come together to demand action from Congress.

Tuesday afternoon, the bus riders are scheduled to meet with Senators Snowe and Collins, as well as staff members for Rep’s Michaud and Pingree.

Since kicking off a one-week signature gathering effort last week, bus riders have used Facebook, Twitter, and email blasts to reach their goal of 2,500 petition signatures destined for the desks of every member of Congress. As of Monday morning they had collected 2,572 signatures on their website, , and more were still arriving.

The riders are hopeful that their actions will lead to support for the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. Introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg, this bill is expected to be considered by the Environment and Public Works Committee later this month. This marks the first time a bill to fix what the moms call a ‘badly broken’ chemical safety system is being considered by a full Senate Committee.

Supporters say the Safe Chemicals Act will set right an upside-down system by requiring chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of their products using the best available science, creating market incentives for safer alternatives, and giving parents the best information possible about chemicals in products that children use every day.