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Consumer Choices and Children’s Health

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Michele Roberts
Campaign and Policy Coordinator

You make a quick trip to the store for some fun summer toys.  You choose between a child’s toy carved from wood with a nontoxic finish or a PVC plastic toy that costs half as much.  What difference does it make, except to your bottom line?

A growing body of research is showing your choice may make more than a financial difference, to your family and the broader community. Science-based efforts like the Ecology Center’s reports reason for concern about ingredients in certain plastics like PVC, from your own child’s health to that of the workers who made the product.

Michele Roberts with Advocates for Environmental Human Rights thinks the rest of us might want to consider the children living near the PVC factories.  “We have people in communities like the Mossville, Louisiana community that is home to the largest polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facility. That is where a lot of this stuff is made.  So they’re in the belly of the beast.  They bear the brunt of the pollution and health disparity.  If we reform this policy for their community we will protect all Americans and the world.”

Roberts is referring to the failed chemical policy that does little to protect consumers in the United States from untested ingredients in countless products. Roberts joined other health, environmental and parenting advocates earlier this year for the National Stroller Brigade for Safer Chemicals.  The coalition is a grassroots effort at bringing common sense reform to toxic chemicals through the Safe Chemicals Act.

“What we need today is full chemical policy reform,” said Roberts emphatically.

When a preacher felt moved by the Holy Spirit to help protect his community from industrial pollution, his small Mississippi town began a process of seeking justice. He saw an unbearable number of local residents getting ill, and he organized an effort to conduct health surveys.  “I knew that I had to do something,” the  pastor testified.  You can see their story in the documentary Renewal by

While we all like feeling that we got a bargain at the store, it turns out our consumer decisions are reaching farther than ever into the lives of someone else’s children.

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