Jennifer Beals, the star of “The L-Word,” and “Flashdance,” and one of People magazine’s most beautiful people of 2011 met last week with leaders on Capitol Hill to press for legislation that would make chemicals used in common household items like cleaners and children’s products safer.

Many toxic chemicals found in household products have been linked to cancer, early puberty, infertility and hormone-disruption. Legislation was just introduced by 29 Senators to reform decades-out-of-date toxics laws.

“We look to our government to provide our basic rights of clean air and water and yet right in front of us, in things we may be exposed to everyday, like our couches, cleaning fluids, toys, makeup or synthetic playing fields lie toxic chemicals that have for the most part gone untested in their effect on human health,” says Beals.

Beals, a mother concerned about the pervasiveness of toxics in common products, is part of a coalition of 450 health, environment and business groups called Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. The coalition is pushing for passage of the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill that would increase the safety of chemicals used in everyday products.

“Americans across the political spectrum have woken up to the fact that unregulated toxic chemicals get into their homes and their bodies. It is uniformly unnerving,” says Andy Igrejas, national director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. “The Safe Chemicals Act would establish common sense limits on these chemicals that are broadly popular and long overdue.”

Similar to a bill cleared by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the 112th Congress, the Safe Chemicals Act would go a long way toward protecting Americans from chemicals before they are linked to reproductive and developmental disorders, cancers and other illnesses that are costly to treat and often preventable. Specifically, it would:

• Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify and restrict the “worst of the worst” chemicals.
• Require basic health and safety information for chemicals as a condition for entering or remaining on the market.
• Upgrade scientific methods for assessing chemical safety.
• Arm the EPA with the authority it needs to restrict chemicals that pose health and environmental concerns.

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