Last October, I was part of a group of Montanans who went to Washington, D.C., along with hundreds of other citizens from around the country to urge Congress to fix our nation’s broken chemical safety system.

Few of the more than 80,000 manufactured chemicals – many used in everyday products – have been tested for their health effects. Only a handful of toxic chemicals, like PCB’s, have been banned, while many others continue to be widely used.

Many chemicals are essentially unregulated or regulated under standards that are not adequately protective for the most vulnerable populations. Due to ineffective federal laws, many toxic chemicals are ending up in the products we use every day, and sold by retailers like Walgreens. Harmful chemicals like flame retardants used in baby products and phthalates used in plastic products are cropping up in all of our bodies – and can be found in higher concentrations in pregnant women and children.

Because Congress has not passed chemical safety reform, citizens around the country are calling on the biggest retailers to step up and use their purchasing power to shift the economy away from harmful chemicals in products we buy for our families. Instead, they should use safer alternatives.

HealthyStuff.org just conducted a study of 44 products from Walgreens, ranging from household cleaning products, school supplies, pet toys and other everyday consumer products. Many were found to contain one or more toxic chemicals, including PVC, phthalates, organotins and heavy metals that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity, and cancer.

As a new parent, my job is to protect my child from harm. I try my best to avoid buying harmful products. As long as so many chemicals are not tested for safety and products with toxic chemicals are not well-regulated, it is a nearly impossible task to find out if unsafe chemicals are in most products that my child will come in contact with. One solution is for stores like Walgreens to take products with toxic chemicals off their shelves.

Walgreens is the largest drugstore chain in the country, and even though it is dedicated to health and wellness, it continues to sell products containing chemicals linked to cancer, asthma and other serious health problems. Walgreens has a duty to sell products that are safe.

In Europe, the Walgreens-owned retailer chain has a comprehensive chemicals policy. Walgreens has no such policy in the United States. If certain chemicals are banned on their store shelves in Europe, shouldn’t they be here too? It’s just common sense that what’s good for customers in Europe should be good for Americans too.

That is why people all over the nation are sending a message to Walgreens that dangerous chemicals have no place in products on their store shelves. Please sign the online petition to show your support and be among the voices for a toxic-free Walgreens. Petitions can be signed at saferchemicals.org.

Robin Saha lives in Missoula and is on the board of directors of the Montana Conservation Voters.

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