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CONTACT: Carol Kelly (207) 210-0789

Environmental Health Advocates Call for Immediate Ban on Toxic Chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA)

New Report Spurs Demand for Action on 40 Toxic Chemicals That Could Harm Children

(PORTLAND) Environmental health advocates gathered in Monument Square Thursday to demand an immediate ban on the chemical bisphenol A from products marketed for infants and toddlers. The group included parents, physicians, and young women and men from around Maine. Responding to a new scientific report, they also called for state regulators to name 40 toxic chemicals that threaten children’s health for priority action under Maine’s Kid Safe Products Act of 2008.

Download the report.

Download the priority chemicals list.

Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a commonly-used chemical that can be found in some plastic bottles, food storage containers, and in the linings of metal food and beverage cans, including infant formula cans. It is linked to hormone disruption, learning disabilities, breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

Amy Halsted is an expectant mother from Brunswick and very concerned about how toxic chemicals will impact the health of her new baby. Halsted told the crowd, “The evidence against BPA is overwhelming and damning. Safer alternatives are already being used. This chemical is so dangerous that it needs to be flat-out banned from products made for children.” Five other states have already banned BPA in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups, some have banned its use in infant formula cans and sports bottles, and action is pending in at least a dozen others.

The noon-time event centered on the release of a new report that identifies nearly 40 chemicals that meet the criteria for being considered “Priority Chemicals” by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Under the 2008 law, DEP is required to identify the first batch of Priority Chemicals by January 1, 2011. Such a designation will trigger a first-ever requirement that manufacturers disclose which products they sell in Maine that contain these Priority Chemicals. The law also empowers DEP to require safer alternatives to the use of Priority Chemicals in consumer products when children are exposed.

Michael Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, stated, “The public has the right to know which products contain any one of these 40 unnecessary dangerous chemicals. Maine should actr swiftly to target these 40 priority chemicals of high concern to children’s health. Toxic chemicals cause devastating health effects and result in millions of dollars in health and economic costs every year. These costs burden every family and every business in Maine. We can’t afford to wait to get dangerous chemicals off the store shelves and out of our homes and workplaces. Thanks to this report, we now have a blueprint for protecting the health and the pocketbooks of Maine people. ”

The report is the result of research conducted by an independent scientific contractor. Dr. Peter Ranslow, the author of the report and the Director of Risk Assessments at the Consortium for Environmental Risk Management was on hand to discuss his findings. Ranslow stated, “Of the more than 1700 chemicals included on Maine’s Chemicals of High Concern list, we identified 50 individual substances that meet all the criteria as potential Priority Chemicals. These chemicals would benefit from additional scrutiny by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.”

Halsted added, “No child should be exposed to toxic chemicals when they play with their favorite toys or eat their favorite meals. Knowing what we know now, it would be irresponsible not to take action on all 40 of these bad actor chemicals. As a soon-to-be new parent, I’m counting on Maine lawmakers to help me protect my children from toxic chemicals.”

Advocates also staged a mock game show they called “Let’s Make a Chemical Deal”, in which the state of Maine was given the opportunity to “trade in” the 40 most dangerous chemicals used in everyday products for safer alternatives. Elisa Boxer, a parent from Scarborough acted as the game show host and was stunned when Maine decided to only trade in only a handful of chemicals. Boxer told her contestant, “This is a serious decision, Maine. Every chemical you choose saves millions of dollars for Maine people and businesses and prevents devastating chronic disease, like cancer, learning disabilities, obesity, and reproductive damage.” Despite repeated urging, Maine chose to trade in only four types of chemicals, reflecting the real concern among advocates that the actual Priority Chemical list will fall short of what’s needed to protect the health of Maine children in an effective and timely way.

The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine is a coalition of over 40 public health, environmental, and public interest organizations dedicated to phasing out long-lived toxic chemicals that build up in the food web and in our bodies.

Posted on 5/13/2010 (Archive on 6/3/2010)


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