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We believe that all Maine people have a right to a healthy environment where we live, work and play.
We envision a future free of exposure to harmful chemicals in our air, water or food.
We want our children to grow up healthy with every opportunity to thrive.
We seek to build a healthy economy that provides good jobs producing clean products and services.
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This report is a collaborative effort of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, a campaign dedicated to protecting American families from toxic chemicals. The report incorporates a significant body of peer-reviewed science on chemicals and health. Download the report.

 

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Legislation would Curb Chemical Threat to Pregnant Women and Children

(Augusta) Maine’s Legislative Council voted today to table Legislative Request (LR) 2488, “An Act to Protect the Health of Maine’s Citizens from Toxic Chemical Products”, sponsored by Representative Gay Grant (D-Gardiner). The proposed new law aims to protect the health of pregnant women and children from toxic chemicals in everyday products. The Legislative Council is made up of the ten legislative leaders, five from the House and five from the Senate, with Democrats currently holding the majority.

In order for a Legislative Request to be approved for introduction during the second regular session of the Maine Legislature, it must be deemed an emergency. Instead of approving or rejecting the measure, Maine’s legislative leaders postponed their decision until their next meeting on November 21st.

Rep. Grant sponsored LR 2488 in order to help Mainers find out whether the products they purchase for their families contain toxic chemicals that cause serious health effects, including birth defects, reproductive harm, learning disabilities and asthma. The proposed legislation would name four widely used toxic chemicals known as phthalates (pronounced ‘THAL-eights’) as Priority Chemicals under Maine’s Kid Safe Products Act, and require major manufacturers to report their use in consumer products.

Rep. Grant stated, “Protecting children’s health is a top priority for Maine families. Healthy kids learn better in school and their parents are more productive at work. Businesses can add jobs when our overall health costs go down. This is an urgent issue we can all come together on.”

Today’s legislative delay comes on the heels of
new testing results released yesterday that found high levels of phthalates in Spongebob Squarepants vinyl rain ponchos, at levels nearly seven times higher than the federal safety standard.

“Too many pregnant women and children encounter phthalates up close and personal every day,” said Kathy Kilrain del Rio, Director of Programs for the Maine Women's Lobby. “It starts with drawing back the shower curtain, then soaping up, then applying lotion, nail polish, or perfume. From there, kids might put phthalate-filled toys in their pockets, grab their vinyl lunchbox, or put on a backpack and raincoat before heading off to school. Phthalates are covering our bodies in a variety of ways. This bill would help us all get good information so we can protect ourselves and our families.”

Doctors, nurses, parents, and other public health advocates believe the proposed legislation meets the “emergency” test required for introduction of bills in the Second Session of the Legislature because of the growing body of science showing harm, the proven exposure to phthalates in the home, and the lack of action from the LePage administration.

Studies show phthalates disrupt the male hormone androgen during prenatal and early childhood development. The effects can include harm to brain development, birth defects of male sex organs, sperm damage, early puberty in girls, learning and attention problems, asthma and other immune system problems. At the same time, it is estimated that the health of 14,000 pregnant women and 40,000 infants and toddlers in Maine is at risk from exposure to phthalates in their homes.

“As a parent, I am constantly struggling to get good information so I can protect my kids from dangerous chemicals,” said Katie Mae Simpson, a mother of two young children from Portland. “Phthalates are a serious reproductive threat to both boys and girls. We all have a right to know which products are safe for our children, and which ones are not.”

Phthalates are commonly used in consumer products found in the home, including vinyl plastics like rain jackets, lunch boxes, kids’ backpacks, school supplies, packaging, and flooring. They are also used in fragrances, where they end up in cosmetics, lotions, and other personal care products.

Proponents believe it is critical to take legislative action to protect children and pregnant women from toxic chemicals because Governor LePage has failed to name or regulate a single Priority Chemical under the Kid Safe Products Act in his three years in office. The Governor tried to gut the popular law in 2011 but was thwarted by its continued strong bipartisan support in the Legislature and among Maine people.

"It's important to increase the number of Mainers with health insurance, and it's equally important to prevent expensive chronic illness rather than paying for it after the fact,” stated Dr. Steve Feder, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “As lawmakers think about expanding coverage options, they should also be taking common sense steps to prevent cancer, learning disabilities, and obesity. Tackling the problem of toxic phthalates is exactly the type of forward-thinking health policy we need to be pursuing."

Posted on 10/30/2013 (Archive on 11/20/2013)

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