This was written by Elizabeth Brandt, Moms Clean Air Force regional field manager:
They were just so fuzzy! So cute! As I awaited the birth of my first baby, I loved the tiny baby clothes that we’d amassed. I especially loved a light blue pajama suit with little flowers and a sheep. Little did I know that the fabric of those poesy pajamas almost certainly was treated with flame retardants, bringing with it a potential risk to my newborn baby.
Eight years later, I’ve learned a little more about flame retardants. I’ve learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban cancer-causing flame retardants from children’s sleepwear. I’ve learned that the American Chemistry Council tried to stop the CPSC from granting that petition. And I’ve learned that parents cannot trust consumer products to be safe for our babies.
That’s why I was deeply concerned when Trump picked his nominee for CPSC chair: Nancy Beck, former senior official at the American Chemistry Council.
The news was like a piece of ice through the heart of this mom. That’s because Nancy Beck’s interest in protecting children from the harms of toxic chemicals is not appreciably different from zero.
After leaving her perch as a top official with the chemical industry lobbying behemoth the American Chemistry Council, Beck spent three years undermining toxic chemical protections at Trump’s EPA. While there, she made decision after decision pandering to the interests of the American Chemistry Council, and ignoring the concerns of families who had experienced first-hand cancer and even death from using toxic products. Among her many troubling decisions while at Trump’s EPA, Beck tried to weaken proposed protections from PFAS chemicals, linked to cancer and other harms, and found widely in drinking water and consumer products. She scuttled rules that would have protected us from the solvent TCE, linked to cancer and fetal heart defects. And she so narrowed the scope of EPA’s risk evaluation for asbestos that she excluded many key sources of exposure, including children’s products contaminated with the carcinogenic mineral.
I know about the health impacts of asbestos exposure firsthand, having lost a family friend to mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos that takes thousands of American lives each year. And Beck’s dedication to the asbestos manufacturers extends well beyond her EPA tenure: While at the American Chemistry Council, Beck pushed for fewer limitations on the import and use of foreign products containing asbestos. Nancy Beck’s leadership is inimical to American’s nearly universal desire to wipe out asbestos exposure.
From my perspective as a concerned parent, there is no way Beck should be confirmed for the 7-year term of CPSC chair. This isn’t just an obvious concern for parents; it should give lawmakers and business leaders pause as well. If parents don’t trust the CPSC, how can we decide what is safe to buy? I already steer clear of products I have reason to think may be of questionable safety. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t be sure if I’m successfully navigating these decisions to lower the risk of harm for my family. I want the CPSC to be a gold standard criterion for safety, but Nancy Beck’s leadership would degrade its already-less-than- perfect reputation.
Throughout her career, Beck has opposed and weakened standards that protect our health, safety, and environment. Families deserve someone at the helm of CPSC with a proven record of protecting families. What Beck has, instead, is a track record of reliable handouts to polluting industries. Senators must stand up for families and refuse to confirm Nancy Beck to lead the CPSC.