|Maine Moms to Businesses and Lawmakers: |
Get the Toxic Chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) Off Store Shelves
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(Portland) Maine moms gathered in Monument Square today demanding that local businesses and Maine lawmakers step up their efforts to get toxic chemicals out of everyday consumer products. Activists brought a 20 foot tall inflatable baby bottle to the scene to draw attention to the many chemicals, including Bisphenol A (also known as BPA) that continue to show up in products on store shelves in Maine, despite mounting scientific evidence linking them to serious health effects.
Michael Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center and a co-founder of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, stated, “All Maine families should have a home free of toxic chemicals. We’re here today because our chemical safety system is broken. We need retailers and lawmakers to make it their business to protect Maine families from toxic chemicals, and that means overhauling our outdated system.”
BPA is widely used in making polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. As a result, it is present in baby bottles, sippy cups, and the linings of metal food cans, including infant formula cans. BPA is a hormone disruptor and is linked to many serious health effects, including cancer, obesity, learning disabilities, and reproductive damage. Nonetheless, products containing BPA are still being sold in Portland, across Maine, and throughout the country.
Cheryl Denis, a mother of two from Portland, expressed shock at the continued use of BPA in products designed for children. She stated, “I am outraged that my daughters’ risk of breast cancer is higher because some businesses won’t take BPA out of their products or off their shelves. And I am stunned by the lack of action at the federal level to fix this broken system. My children and children everywhere are counting on our lawmakers to keep them safe from dangerous chemicals.”
At the federal level, the primary target for reform is the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. This is the only major environmental statute that has never been updated. Critics say it is ineffective and filled with loopholes that have led to only a handful of chemical restrictions in 30 years, despite a list of 60,000 chemicals in use when it was established. Belliveau stated, “Science has already proven that thousands of chemicals are dangerous. Yet the EPA has only required 200 to be tested and it has ultimately restricted the use of only five. This is an appalling record.”
Belliveau added, “This isn’t just about the businesses that are lagging behind or about the dangers of BPA. Yes, we need businesses to do more, and yes, BPA needs to be a priority for the DEP. But we also need lawmakers to do more. We can’t fix a system one business at a time, one chemical at a time, or one state at a time. For the health of our kids and their kids, we need Congress to take on the chemical industry and take immediate action to fix this broken system.”
Denis closed by stating, “I know I speak for moms everywhere when I say that we don’t want our children exposed to dangerous chemicals as they play with their toys, enjoy their favorite foods, or get washed up before bed. We want businesses to get on board and protect their youngest customers, and we want lawmakers to move swiftly and help us protect our families from toxic chemicals.”
Background on BPA:
• Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. It is the chemical building block for polycarbonate plastic and can be found in baby bottles, water bottles and food storage containers. It is also used in epoxy resins that coat the lining of metal food cans, including infant formula cans.
• BPA was synthesized as an estrogen replacement therapy in the 1930s but was discarded in favor of other therapies. In the late 1940s, BPA was rediscovered by polymer scientists and quickly became a mainstay in the plastics industry.
• BPA is an unstable polymer, meaning that the chemical bonds between molecules can be easily disrupted by heat, acidic conditions and many other everyday conditions. Once these bonds break, BPA leaches out of the plastic or can lining, entering the food and ultimately people.
• BPA exposure is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including prostate and breast cancer, obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, altered development of the brain and immune system, and and early-onset puberty in girls.
• According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.