Children face serious health threats every day from toxic chemicals in household products linked to cancers, learning disabilities or reproductive harm.

Everybody knows someone touched by cancer. I’ve lost five family members to cancer and have numerous friends and acquaintances who’ve faced this terrible disease.

The broken Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 has allowed almost all 80,000 chemicals in commerce to enter the market without any safety review. The good news is that Congress finally agrees that reform is long overdue.

We need reform that truly protects our health from toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, a bill (S.697) before the U.S. Senate would take at least eight years to review only 25 chemicals. Worse, the bill would prevent states from taking action on chemicals while the federal government is reviewing them.

In Maine, the bipartisan-backed Kid-Safe Products Act of 2008 allows our state to keep families safe from the worst of the worst chemicals. We shouldn’t limit Maine’s authority to act while the federal government continues to delay action.

A better reform measure (H.R. 2576) just passed the House almost unanimously. While not perfect, it preserves state authority to take action on toxic chemicals and would review a greater number of chemicals for safety in a shorter time frame than the Senate bill.

Congress should work off the House reform bill and add the stronger elements of the Senate proposal to it.

Our senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, will play a role in ensuring the passage of real reform. Now is our chance to get this right to secure a healthier future for our families.

Lalla Carothers