Breathing Easy: Moms Clean Air Force

The latest celebrity mommy cause isn’t particularly glam. It’s as simple as it gets. It’s political, but not very controversial and even nonpartisan. Is the suspense killing you yet? Okay—It’s clean air! The basic idea that every child has the right to breathe clean air has everyone from Julianne Moore to Maya Rudolph to Christina Applegate to Blythe Danner joining the grassroots group Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF).

Further motivating these mothers is the plethora of children’s health concerns that have been linked to air pollution including asthma, behavioral issues, mercury poisoning, and more. Mercury, a neurotoxin, damages the brains of young children and developing babies. That’s why your OB asked you to limit your intake of certain mercury-laden fish when pregnant.

“Clean air should be above politics,” says Julianne Moore. “The discussion about regulations to protect our air has gotten so polarized that we have forgotten an important thing: We all breathe the same air. And all our children suffer because of pollution. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. We can have both. We can have what’s best for all our children.” Moore’s passion for the topic positively pops in the video she shot for MCAF beseeching moms to tell Washington to stand up for clean air, not protect utility and coal industries.

MCAF was co-founded about a year ago by Dominique Browning, the author and former editor-in-chief of House & Garden. “I was startled to see so much energy among moms online—about what to buy to solve problems, like organic foods, or air filters, or BPA-free bottles. But what about those enormous problems that money can’t fix?” recalls Browning. “Weirdly, polluters can buy the right to pollute—but the rest of us cannot buy clean air or clean water. We have to fight for strong regulations.” To those who say we already have too many regulations, Browning responds, “Just look at the air in China and India.”

Grey’s Anatomy star Jessica Capshaw is also lending her voice to the cause. “There’s only one way to keep poisons out of the air we breathe—and that’s to create strong protections,” she says. “It’s time to let our political representatives know that they bear a moral responsibility for cleaning poisons out of our air.”

Being politically active is a bit of a lost art for this current generation of parents, but moms are getting the hang of it again—and not just celebrity moms. MCAF says they’re a growing community of tens of thousands of moms—including, full disclosure, me—from all across the country and all across the political spectrum. Browning likes to remind anyone who will listen that it was President Richard Nixon, a Republican, who signed the Clean Air Act, which she refers to as “a jewel in our democratic crown.” MCAF members are uniting to make their voices heard to protect children’s health. As Browning says, “We have powerful voices, if we use them.”

Now we’re using them