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Executive Order Promoting Safer Chemicals
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Task Force Releases Final Report - December 2007

The Governor's Task Force to Promote Safer Chemicals in Consumer Products released its Final Report on December 17, 2007. The Task Force calls for a comprehensive chemicals policy; expanded consumer and retailer education; and establishing a Maine Innovation Economic Advisory Board.

Based on the best scientific evidence available and supported by leading Maine businesses such as InterfaceFABRIC and Tom’s of Maine, the report calls for practical, common-sense action to protect public health and the environment from the unnecessary use of toxic chemicals in everyday products.

The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine applauds Governor Baldacci for his leadership and foresight in establishing a Task Force a year in advance of a wave of recalls of toxic toys and other children’s products that reveal gaping holes in the federal safety system for consumer products.

We strongly agree with the Task Force that the widespread use of toxic chemicals in products poses a serious threat to public health and environment, especially to those most vulnerable, including the developing fetus and young children.

The Task Force conclusions are well-documented and verified by authoritative testimony:
  • The federal safety system for chemicals in commerce is badly broken since known hazardous chemicals are still on the market and thousands more remain untested;
  • There are huge gaps in knowledge – neither the chemical industry or manufacturers are required to test chemicals for safety or disclose the chemicals added to products;
  • Investment is lagging in research and development of safer alternatives and green chemistry solutions that provide opportunities for economic development, e.g. the production of nontoxic bioplastics from Maine potatoes and other natural resources.
We strongly support the Task Force recommendation that Maine continue to lead by example in its state purchasing practices and in public policy development. We can’t afford to wait for the federal government to catch up with the advances being made at the state level across the country, in the European Union and elsewhere.

We strongly support the Task Force recommendation that Maine enact legislation to establish a comprehensive chemical policy to require safer substitutes to priority toxic chemicals in consumer products and to create incentives for safer alternatives.

Such a safer chemicals policy should, as recommended by the Task Force:
  • Identify and prioritize chemicals of high concern that are known to harm children’s development, cause cancer, cause genetic or reproductive damage, disrupt hormones, persist in the environment or build up in our bodies or wildlife;
  • Require manufacturers to disclose which chemicals are in consumer products; and
  • Require that safer alternatives be used whenever they are demonstrated to feasible.
We are confident that Governor’s Baldacci’s track record of success in protecting the health of Maine’s children and the environment from toxic chemicals will lead him to fully embrace his Task Force recommendations for a safer chemicals policy.

Governor Baldacci called for the creation of the Task Force on February 22, 2006 when he issued his Executive Order Promoting Safer Chemicals in Consumer Products. He charged the Task Force to survey knowledge related to promoting safer alternatives to chemicals of concern, develop recommendations for a more comprehensive chemicals policy that requires safer substitutes to toxic chemicals in consumer products, develop recommendations for expanded consumer education and public right-to-know to promote markets for safer alternatives, and develop recommendations for expanded research and development in Maine of safer alternatives.

The thirteen member Task Force was comprised of representatives with expertise in business, economic development, public health, the environment, labor, law and integrated pest management. Members include Stacie Beyer (Interface Inc.), Mark Dobrovolny (Tom's of Maine), Dr. Deborah Rice (Maine Center for Disease Control), Mike Belliveau (Environmental Health Strategy Center), Nick Bennett (Natural Resources Council of Maine), and Sharon Tisher, the representative of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. The Task Force is chaired by DEP Commissioner David P. Littell and staffed by the DEP's Environmental Public Health specialist Ginger Jordan-Hillier.

The Task Force heard presentations and engaged in productive discussions with a wide range of experts on chemicals information, regulation and policy, including Mark Catlin, SEIU Education and Support Fund; Stephanie Publicker, National Library of Medicine's NIH-NLM Household Products Database; Mark Sanderson and Elpi Karalis of Environment and Health Canada; Dr. Michael Wilson, Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of California, Berkeley; Kenneth Cook, Environmental Working Group; and Dr. Tom Green, IPM Institute of North America.

Early on in its work, the Task Force found major inadequacies in the current system of federal regulation of Toxic Chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, and presented a number of recommendations for expanded education initiatives and expanded research and development of safer alternatives.

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Maine's Departments of Environmental Protection and Labor Urge the U.S. Department of Labor to Require Disclosure of Scientific Evidence that a Chemical Persists and Bioaccumulates. (Download PDF of Official Letter, 78k).
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