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Old 04-22-2019, 12:41 PM
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Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

My husband suggested I write the president when I was ranting to him about chemicals. So I think I will. I’ll probably change a few things, but this is what I have so far. I tried to convey a friendly, respectful and thought provoking tone while looking for common ground. After all, you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar

Dear President Trump,

My name is April, I am 30 years old and live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. While we certainly do not see eye to eye on every issue, I try to keep an open mind and do see that you do care a great deal for the citizens and future of our country. One thing I feel we certainly agree on is that the citizens of the United States deserve politicians and government agencies that work for us (the people) with the best interests of the country and its citizens at the forefront of their decision making. I see a very glaring area of great concern that touches the lives of most Americans where the lawmakers and agencies we are suppose to trust appear to very much be working in the interest of corporations over the interests of Americans and the long term health of the nation.

This may seem a bit of an unusual point to bring up, but I hope it prompts some thought and discussion at some level in the presidential offices- Have you ever heard that before we had air quality meters to detect toxic gases in coal mines, canaries and other small birds were often brought down with miners? The reason being, miners knew that if the birds died, the air would quickly become toxic to humans as well and were able to safely evacuate the area. We have long known birds, due to their unique respiratory systems, to be good indicators of low level airborne toxins that may eventually cause health effects and/or death in people. Many people are unaware that it is common knowledge amongst pet bird owners that most household cleaners, personal care products, scented candles, air fresheners and off-gassing from certain non-stick pans/appliances cause respiratory illness and death in pet birds. As such, many bird owners actively avoid these harmful products but the average American household is unaware of this modern day analog to canaries in the coal mines alerting us to potential danger.

Under current laws, I do not believe Americans are being adequately protected from potentially dangerous chemicals in common household products. The rates of diseases such as cancer, obesity, respiratory issues and infertility are skyrocketing and so are the number and levels of untested, unregulated and undeclared chemicals entering American homes. I am unsure if you are aware that manufacturers of scented products can hide any ingredient they want consumers to remain unaware of on their ingredient labels under the ambiguous title of “fragrance” (which can contain many different chemicals listed as a singular ingredient). This removes the ability for the consumer to make informed choice on what products they do or do not want to buy based on ingredients. American consumers are further deceived into believing that agencies such as the EPA have done their jobs to ensure the ingredients of these products are safe, when they don’t actually know the long term impacts to human health of most chemicals currently in widespread circulation as well as having minimal requirements before releasing newly developed chemicals to the market. Does it really make sense to allow substances into products intended for frequent use into American homes with little to no safety testing and no real consensus on potential long term health impacts? Does it make sense to wait for a chemical to poison enough Americans that regular people have to fight for it to be pulled from shelves, rather than government agencies doing their jobs and requiring unbiased safety testing before ever allowing it to be sold in the first place? The FDA requires rigorous testing of new prescription drugs before being sold. Why do other substances that are more readily available for purchase not undergo similarly stringent testing?

I hope this letter does not come across as someone who is ‘crazy’, rather someone who is concerned about the future of my country. A country full of sick people is not going to be a strong country for very long. I certainly do not believe that every man made chemical is harmful, but under our current system, we have no objective way of knowing precisely which ones are safe or harmful. I also hope you will be able to accept my inclusion of a special gift of a naturally molted wing feather from my beautiful pet amazon parrot named Kiwi, whom I’ve owned for over 10 years. Through my own “canary”, I have undoubtedly dodged unnecessary health issues of my own through choosing not to bring potentially toxic chemicals into my home that would harm or kill him. I hope it serves as a reminder that it really is worth considering what pet birds can teach us about the potential human health risks of the inadequately regulated chemical industry in this country.

Regards,
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Last edited by Kiwibird; 04-22-2019 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 04-22-2019, 01:41 PM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

Well written Kiwi's mom!
Based on the need to protect government officials, anything aside from standard paper will halt the process of your letter. I am certain that any President would greatly appreciate a flight feather from Kiwi, but sadly, it will assure the letter not getting beyond the check point.

The vast majority of the chemicals, many well known to be (very) dangerous to Humans, that are allowed in “fragrance” and other products is a result of Congress looking the other way for a very long time. In addition, what is used to produce /protect products that are shipped into the North America and Western Europe slips in commonly because the boarder agency does not have the time or equipment to check every container as the vast majority of their time is targeted to drugs, humans, and bombs. Consider the serious dog food issues of the recent past.

May your letter be successful!
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Old 04-22-2019, 03:15 PM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

You are my new hero

Well written, wonderful letter!! Thank you!!!
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Old 04-22-2019, 03:55 PM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

LOL, my first reaction was : make sure to include a lot of pictures.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:00 PM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

I would hope a feather wouldn’t cause some kind of crisis but knowing the government... I wonder about a small drawing instead, on like a 4x6 card? I would like to include something to make the letter stand out so someone actually reads it. I’m fairly certain the president himself (or any president in modern times) wouldn’t ever read letters from citizens and instead the job falls to some low level aide, but all it takes is for that individual to bring up the topic and a little discussion that could work it’s way up may be started!
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:54 AM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

Kiwibird,

The way this is written I read that letter as an opinion or editorial and not based on any presented facts and thus the staffer who reads it is just going to toss it.

If your intent is to convince the government that they should spend taxpayers dollars to investigate what you allege, you will need lots of research facts and figures, included or attached, enough to justify the expenditure of money.

Once you've done that and the staffer thinks it worthy, it will be added to the list of the other thousands of recommendations. To actually move it up the list in priority, you'll likely need a media campaign. Maybe a cc: to CNN.

Just my jaded 2 cents.
Bill
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Old 04-23-2019, 10:00 AM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

Very well written, April!

I concur with Steven's point about the feather, but I understand your need to make the letter stand out. Perhaps one of your beautiful pics of Kiwi? You do have some gorgeous shots of him that would more than suffice.

And as to whether the president will actually read the letter, it does happen. Different president, I know, but a few months back an excited little girl showed me a response she'd received from President Obama. (It just came up randomly while I was helping her mother with a computer issue.) From the style and personal touches, it was evident that the president was touched by her letter and had taken the time to respond himself. (The joy and sheer emotion on the girl's face makes me smile every time I think of it.) Obviously such an event would, of a necessity, be relatively rare, but it can happen.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:19 AM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

Beautifully expressed, April. You are a supremely talented artist, the idea of a 4x6 card with vivid coloring is excellent!
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:25 AM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

[quote=bill_e;808021]Kiwibird,
Quote: Originally Posted by bill_e View Post
Kiwibird,

The way this is written I read that letter as an opinion or editorial and not based on any presented facts and thus the staffer who reads it is just going to toss it.

If your intent is to convince the government that they should spend taxpayers dollars to investigate what you allege, you will need lots of research facts and figures, included or attached, enough to justify the expenditure of money.

Once you've done that and the staffer thinks it worthy, it will be added to the list of the other thousands of recommendations. To actually move it up the list in priority, you'll likely need a media campaign. Maybe a cc: to CNN.

Just my jaded 2 cents.
Bill
I hear what you’re saying and thank you for the honest critique. I’m actually a bit unsure how to present such information in a clear, conscience and well articulated manner. I’m certain with further research I could round up the exact wording of laws and small studies etc... but I still wouldn’t know what to do with them. It’s not like the FDA or EPA cares if these chemicals are safe or not (hence my issue). Currently, no government agency (thanks to chem industry lobbyists) will accept any independent study indicating certain chemicals of concern might be unsafe. They let the industry effectively self regulate and if they say it’s safe, it’s considered safe with no further questions asked until enough people get sick it is proven unsafe in a massive lawsuit (like what recently happened and is still ongoing with Monsanto/Bayer and Roundup, i.e. Glyphosate based herbicides).

We have a very broken system and it’s hard to articulate what’s broken and how it could be fixed as a layperson with no legal or scientific background. In regards to labeling fragrances, fda.gov directs you to the FPLA stating that essentially, fragrances are considered a “trade secret” therefore consumers have no right to know what chemicals are in them even though they require other chemicals in the product to be listed (meaning a particularly questionable chemical could be easily hidden behind the “fragrance” loophole). I could also cite the numerous companies producing non stick products now labeling them with warnings about acute toxicity and death in pet birds? DuPont have been slowly and quietly phasing out the original Teflon formulation due to a massive lawsuit and ban. Sadly, they have simply switched from PFOA to a close chemical analogue called “GenX”, meaning the original chemical proven to be unsafe is no longer in production and the chemical analog, in the eyes of regulators, is considered perfectly safe despite no evidence either way (and it’s just as acutely toxic to birds though, according to the DuPont website).

As for contacting the media or creating some group of protesters? There are plenty of people already complaining about the issue of unregulated chemicals in the media, and their way of going about it will continue to fall on deaf ears with this administration IMO. Setting my long time personal ‘reservations’ about the media aside, I think there is no faster way to kill a legitimate concern in the eyes of this president than involving the big media outlets.
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Last edited by Kiwibird; 04-23-2019 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:46 AM
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Re: Writing a letter to the president about what we can learn from pet birds

Kiwibird, perhaps an alternate approach, for both your sanity and actually accomplishing something, would be to find an already formed, funded and "in the fight" group and offer your assistance.

Over the last 30 years I have been involved in spending a couple of billion dollars of taxpayer money and I can tell you that it is not at all easy to get money to spend...unless someone with connections to the top wants it bad. Since you probably don't have connections in the administration, I would think that the next best thing is the media....and I do hate the current crop of tabloid media. Hmmm, maybe even a local news I-Team like consumer advocate as a first step.
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