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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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Right now, retailers and consumers are left in the dark as to which products contain phthalates. Our proposal to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection calls for requiring manufacturers of household products to report that information publicly. We need your help so that parents, pregnant women and all Mainers know which products contain these harmful chemicals.

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Supporters of right-to-know policy host carnival-style game in Monument Square before sending box of products to a Michigan laboratory for testing

Portland, Maine - People taking their lunch break in Portland’s Monument Square today were given a chance to guess which common household products contain hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates. Hawkers offered passers-by a chance to win a prize for correctly identifying the products containing phthalates, but participants quickly realized there was no way to know, because information on phthalates is not provided on packaging or available in an internet search.

"Our children's health shouldn’t be a game of chance," said Barbara DiBiase, a grandmother from Falmouth. "It’s a very frustrating situation. Parents and pregnant women have a right to know which products contain these dangerous chemicals called phthalates."

Phthalates are commonly used to soften vinyl plastic and are routinely added to hundreds of everyday products and building materials found in the home. They are also a frequent ingredient of "fragrance" found in many lotions, cosmetics, and other personal care products.

Participants in today's game were given a variety of products to choose from, including shower curtains, tablecloths, rain coats, sun screen, flip flops and backpacks. In each case, their best guess resulted in the answer, "information unavailable", but immediately following the event, many of the products were shipped to a laboratory in Michigan for scientific testing.

"This piecemeal approach to product testing is our only source of definitive information right now," stated Emily Postman, Grassroots Organizer with the Environmental Health Strategy Center. "It's a great barometer of the problem, but its limited scope does very little to help parents in the grocery, the pharmacy, or the home goods store. The solution is simple and practical: manufacturers can report which of their products contain phthalates so consumers and retailers can make informed decisions."

Last month a group of moms, health professionals, and public health advocates submitted 2,071 petitions from 168 Maine towns to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that would require manufacturers to report their use of four phthalates in products sold in Maine. The DEP now has until mid-August to schedule a public hearing. The full text of the proposed rule can be found at http://bit.ly/RCWKKM.

"Our citizen-driven proposal is about taking action where action is long overdue," said DiBiase, who is helping to collect public comments on the proposed rule. "Phthalates are lurking unseen in the products we use every day. They can cause serious health effects, but we don’t have the information to know where to find them or how to avoid them. Hopefully that's about to change for the four phthalates covered by our proposal."

Today’s event comes during national Men's Health Month. Dozens of human health studies link phthalate exposure to serious health effects, especially in young boys. Impacts can include abnormal development of male sex organs, learning and behavior problems, increased rates of asthma and allergies, and greater risk of prostate and testicular cancer. Phthalates readily escape from products and enter the human body through breathing, eating and skin contact, including the frequent hand-to-mouth activity and teething by toddlers.

"So much more can be done to protect the young men of Maine from these devastating chronic illnesses," said Rep. Matt Moonen, a state legislator from Portland "It's time to take the guesswork out of keeping our kids safe from phthalates. Maine's Kid-Safe Products Act is a powerful tool for helping us get better information about which products contain dangerous chemicals, but it's not being used to its potential. The citizen-initiated rule before the DEP would help parents and pregnant women avoid dangerous products and it would create market incentives for safer alternatives. It’s simple and common sense. I urge the DEP to adopt it quickly."

The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine will gather written comments to the DEP over the summer, and submit them to the agency once the public comment period opens. Anyone can submit a public comment to the Alliance online by visiting http://bit.ly/phthalatesALLIANCE and filling out the Google form.

Posted on 6/19/2014 (Archive on 7/10/2014)

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