On Mother's Day, Give Moms What They Really Want: Protect Our Kids from Toxic Chemicals

It's Mother's Day weekend and that can mean only one thing - fathers and children are asking themselves "What does Mom really want?" I will fill you in on a little secret. It's actually quite easy. We all just want sleep.

But not just any sleep. We want the "pre-baby sleep." That blissful, sound, uninterrupted sleep. Don't get me wrong, after your kids reach a certain age, you can get the hours of sleep back, but can you never get the deep sleep that you are able to get before children.

Something happens when you become a mom. Not only do you think about your children throughout the day, but they are even in your thoughts as you sleep. What starts often as a sense of heightened anxiety - "Is the baby breathing?" - turns into a constant awareness of another's wellbeing. Even when your children are grown, leading lives of their own, the recurring question on mom's mind is "Are they safe?"

As moms we do everything we can. We analyze ingredients labels with a fine toothcomb. We read Amazon reviews before buying products our kids use. We pray we have prepared them for the world and hope they will be safe. But we also know we simply cannot control everything.

When it comes to the air we breathe, the food our families eat, and the products our children use, we often have to trust the government to ensure they are free from toxic chemicals and our families are protected from preventable harms caused by exposure dangerous substances. But lately our trust in our government has been called into question.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has not only shattered the trust of the residents of Flint, but also sent a shockwave of fear across the country as more and more communities learn of elevated lead levels in their water. Last year, asbestos - a known human carcinogen - was found in children's crayons. And just this week, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $55 million to a woman who linked her ovarian cancer diagnosis to talcum in the company's baby powder.

As more families question how the government failed to protect us from these dangerous substances, they are learning that the law governing chemicals in our country, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 , is broken and potentially hazardous chemicals remain in our schools, homes, and consumer products.

My trust was forever broken the day my husband was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused cancer. Like most American families, we were blissfully unaware chemicals in our country were largely unregulated by our government. I had never heard of TSCA and had no idea one of the most important laws in our country had been rendered essentially ineffective decades ago. But I quickly learned TSCA was so weak that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wasn't even able to ban asbestos.

I also learned asbestos was the tip of the iceberg. Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention of the EPA recently stated, "More than three and a half decades since the passage of TSCA, the EPA has only been able to require testing on just a little more than 200 of the 84,000 chemicals listed on the TSCA inventory and has regulated or banned only five of these chemicals."

The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are in the midst of finalizing a bill to reform TSCA. This legislation will shape the future of chemical safety for decades to come. If the Committee focuses their efforts on protecting public health and the environment, their work will greatly improve the safety of American families across our country.

The members of Congress working on the final bill have the facts and data, but they need to hear from moms and dads about what's really at stake. Join me in calling on Congress to protect our families. Tell Congress that the final TSCA bill should be focused on ensuring the safety of our families.

And if you are like me and not willing to wait on Congress, download the Environmental Working Group's Healthy Living App, where you can find ratings for more than 120,000 food and personal care products. This amazing app gives you information you need to make smart, safe purchases.

Congress may not be able to give us "pre-baby sleep," but they can help us sleep more soundly by restoring our trust that the government is working to protect our families from toxic chemicals.