Real mom: Sara McLoone

In October of 2013, Minneapolis mom Sara McLoone and her young daughter Scout packed up their stroller and flew to the country’s Capitol to participate in the “Stroller Brigade.” The gathering’s purpose? To demand a change to the outdated laws overseeing toxic chemicals. While the Chemical Safety Improvement Act hasn’t yet had any major successes, McLoone is encouraged by Minnesota’s actions to ban certain chemicals, and shares some of her history and tactics in the fight to keep ourselves and kids healthy. 

— Zoe Gahan

What spurred your interest in reform for toxic chemical laws?

Absolutely it was the experience of becoming a mother. I think a lot of new parents relate to this sense that their job is to protect their children. I was just kind of bowled over by how prevalent toxic chemicals were in so many products already in our home, and I quickly became frustrated at how common they were in products intended for infants and children.

Has your family been affected by toxic chemicals?

Unfortunately, we have. Our home is located in Minneapolis’ “Arsenic Triangle” in midtown, which is a Superfund site. After purchasing our home, we discovered that our soil samples exceeded safe levels of arsenic and had to have the soil remediated. And because our home is almost 100 years old, it also contains a fair amount of lead paint. So we must get our children’s blood tested periodically to check for lead exposure. It’s maddening that we are paying the price for toxic chemicals from my parent’s generation.  

How did you get involved in the Stroller Brigade? 

The Minnesota-based Healthy Legacy Coalition sponsored my trip. Healthy Legacy is a coalition of 37 Minnesota organizations who came together in 2006 because of the growing body of evidence linking rising rates of disease and exposure to toxic chemicals. Due to the work of Healthy Legacy, Minnesota has been a leader in protecting children’s health from toxic chemical exposure by passing groundbreaking policies that restrict toxic chemicals in children’s products such as baby bottles, food packing and body products.

How do you protect your family from unhealthy items?

We try to keep things simple: eat simple foods that are grown with either no or minimal pesticides and avoid products containing fragrance, especially synthetic fragrance. Around the house and yard we try to limit any exposure they could get to paint chips and dust, particularly around windows and thresholds. And we took the extra precaution of putting in raised beds for our vegetable garden.

What encourages your activism in this area? 

I’m most encouraged by the successes we’ve had here in Minnesota banning BPA and formaldehyde in kids’ products. It shows that the political will is there when parents expect results from our legislators!

Do you have a favorite spot in Minneapolis?

My personal favorite destination is Minneapolis’ Greenway. It helped ease my way into becoming a bike commuter and I still love to ride my bike on it and enjoy the city on two wheels.  My kids are huge fans of playing at the beaches on Lake Calhoun. It’s amazing how they react to just a little sand and water! 


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