Good Chemistry: Green Tips for Better Health, from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

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Ask your Maine Senators to support The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011

Maine heroes have stepped up to the plate to defend our kids from toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems, from cancer and learning disabilities to diabetes and asthma.  In 2008, Mainers came together to pass the common-sense Kid Safe Products Act to help phase-out toxic chemicals that pose a danger to our children.  But all over Maine, too many parents still worry about buying products that are safe for their kids.  Too many families suffer from health problems linked to chemical exposure.  And too many businesses are plagued by high healthcare costs. 

Maine can't go it alone!

80,000 chemicals are currently in use--and only 200 of them have been tested for safety. It's time for reform!

We need a hero in Congress who can build on Maine's common-sense laws by fixing our national chemical safety policies, which are badly broken.  For 35 years the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)of 1976 has not protected the health and safety of our kids, allowing thousands of untested chemicals onto shelves and into our homes.  Out of 80,000 chemicals in our products, barely 200 have been tested under TSCA – clearly, it’s time for reform. 

We have a unique opportunity to fix this broken system.

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, will immediately phase out chemicals that we already know are dangerous.  It will also require safety testing for chemicals before they end up in our products, and provide a lot more information to consumers.  Plus, this law would also reward innovative companies who are creating safer technologies. 

We just learned that the Safe Chemicals Act is on-track for a Committee vote this fall!

We need the Senators' support now - TAKE ACTION!

It could be a matter of weeks before the Safe Chemicals Act makes its way out of committee.  Now is the time for Senators Snowe and Collins to be our heroes by co-sponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.  Maine has already led the way passing state laws to phase out toxic chemicals like lead, mercury, and BPA from every-day products.  Now we need Maine's Senators lead the way to sensible chemical safety reform.  Urge your Senators to act now!

Posted by on October 10th, 2011 2 Comments

Maine Passes Deca Amendment

Earlier this week, the Maine Senate unanimously voted to amend a ban on the flame retardant Deca. The bill, LD 930, now gives greater flexibility for manufacturers to find safer, approved alternatives.

Deca is part of a series of PBDE (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) chemicals that are used as flame retardants in furniture, electronics, and other consumer products.  They are known reproductive and developmental toxicants that have made their way into the environment and into our bodies.  PBDE levels in breast milk, blood and tissues have increased by a factor of 100 in the past 30 years, doubling about every five years. This is alarming--studies link PBDEs to reproductive and developmental problems, including delayed puberty. The Environmental Health Strategy Center has more information about the impacts of Deca on the health of women and children.

Last year, Maine banned Deca from shipping pellets and prohibited manufacturers from replacing Deca with other brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.  The amendment passed this week requires any alternatives to be approved by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection.  We applaud LD 930 because it allows manufacturers flexibility in finding alternatives, which is important as full non-halogenated alternatives to brominated or chlorinated flame retardants don’t exist, yet. 

Developing laws that protect human health from toxic products, and creating safer alternatives should be a top priority. That’s PPNNE is working with the Alliance for Clean and Healthy Maine to advance comprehensive chemical policy reform with the passage of the Safer Chemicals Act of 2011. The policy is a long-overdue modernization of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that provides greater consumer and worker information about toxic exposure, strengthens the Environmental Protection Agency’s oversight on harmful chemicals, and promotes innovation for safer alternatives.  

Ask Maine Senators Snowe and Collins to co-sponsor the Safer Chemicals Act of 2011 and to continue Maine’s leadership on chemical policy reform.

Posted by on May 26th, 2011 No Comments

Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law Strengthened

Last week, environmental health advocates won key provisions to protect the health of women and children in Maine.  In a stunning show of bipartisan cooperation, the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee of the Maine State Legislature unanimously voted in favor of strengthening and clarifying the existing Kid-Safe Products Law.  This effort was the result of collaboration between Maine’s business community and environmental health advocates who sought common ground for a solution to protect children’s health and find a workable process for businesses to phase out harmful chemicals in their products. 

PPNNE opposed the original version of  the bill, LD 1129, because it was industry-backed and rendered the Kid-Safe Product Act ineffective.  With great testimony from a broad range of advocates, small business owners, scientists, mothers, and young women at the public hearing, we demonstrated strong public pressure to protect the health of women and children from chemical harm.

Click here to read a more detailed description of this environmental victory and what it means for Maine women and families--written by our allies at Environmental Health Strategy Center.

Posted by on May 17th, 2011 No Comments

LePage’s Devastating Environmental Proposals

Maine has come a long way to ensure our health and environment is protected for families and children.  In the last thirty years, we’ve cleaned up our heavily polluted rivers, increased protections for inland fisheries and wildlife, and passed protections to ensure the everyday products we buy are safe from toxic harm. 

In January, Governor Paul Le Page sent the Maine Legislature a sweeping package of roll backs of Maine’s environmental protections.  If passed, the changes would increase air pollution, expose Mainers to mercury, lead, and other toxic chemicals, threaten wildlife, weaken policies that hold companies accountable for breaking the law, and abolish the Board of Environmental Protection--a citizen board that gives Maine people a voice in environmental policymaking, among other things. 

In the next couple of weeks, Maine legislators will decide whether they will stand for out-of-state interest or the interests of Maine people.   Send a message to lawmakers saying you are outraged by LePage's proposals. You can also attend the upcoming hearing on Monday, February 14th at the Statehouse to voice your opinion in person.  

Maine women deserve the right to live in a clean environment and know that the products we buy won’t harm our health or our families.  We are committed to ensuring the preservation of Maine’s progress in environmental health. 

Maine is already a national leader for advancing environmental protections in the realm of public health, especially the health of our children through the landmark 2008 Kid-Safe Products Act.  LePage’s proposals would take move Maine backwards.  Take action to preserve Maine’s progress for generations to come.

Posted by on February 11th, 2011 No Comments

Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Nonylphenols Named Maine Priority Chemicals

Maine's Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) has named bisphenol-A (BPA) and nonylphenols (NPs) as Maine's first Priority Chemicals under the 2008 Kid-Safe Products Law. In addition, they provisionally adopted a phase out of BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, which will be reviewed by the Maine Legislature before finalization.

Dr. Jeff Peterson, a pediatrician from Yarmouth, was pleased with the Board's action and stated, "No parent would willingly expose their child to dangerous chemicals - chemicals that could affect their ability to grow, learn, be healthy, and bear children. Designating them as Priority Chemicals and collecting more information on which products they are used in is just common sense."

Today's ruling caps a six-month public process in which the BEP heard testimony in support of the proposals from over 400 parents, scientists, doctors, nurses, business owners, public health professionals, and environmental health advocates from across the state and the region.

Testimony included vast scientific data and detailed how the proposed ban could improve the health of Maine children, how it could reduce the health and economic costs that result from exposure to toxic chemicals, and howMaine's many small businesses could benefit by having better information about the products they sell or use.

Steve Taylor, Coordinator of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, remarked, "Maine's Kid-Safe Products Law was passed nearly unanimously by the Maine Legislature in 2008 because protecting kids' health, reducing health costs, and giving retail businesses more information is good for everyone. Today's ruling is another step along the careful path ourlawmakers created. Maine scientists have identified two of the worst toxic chemicals and put them on the road to being replaced with safer alternatives. Maine families and small businesses are really the winners today."

As Priority Chemicals, information on the use of BPA and NPs in everyday products, as well as possible safer alternatives, will be compiled. For BPA, information will be collected on infant formula containers, baby food jars, toys, tableware, and child care articles. For NPs, information will be collected on household and commercial cleaners, cosmetics and personal care items, and home maintenance products. This information will give Maine businesses and families an opportunity to learn significantly more about the products they sell and use every day.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is one of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. It was synthesized as an estrogen replacement therapy in the 1930's and is now a chemical building block for polycarbonate plastic. It has been widely used in baby bottles, food storage containers, and in the epoxy resins that coat the lining of metal food cans, including some infant formula cans.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. BPA exposure has been linked to a significant number of health problems, including learning disabilities, behavior problems, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive damage, diabetes, and obesity.

Safer alternatives to Priority Chemicals can be required when research shows convincing evidence of harm and the availability of safer and affordable chemicals. Because the scientific evidence against BPA is considered by most to be overwhelming, and safer alternatives are readily available, the BEP has also decided that BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups be replaced.

Nonylphenols are used in detergents, personal care products, paints, and pesticides. Because they are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, exposure to nonylphenols can result in serious health effects, including reproductive damage. Because the dangers are widely recognized and safer alternatives are readily available, many manufacturers, retailers, and cleaning professionals have voluntarily stopped making or using products that contain NP or NPE. But because all efforts to date have been voluntary, NP and NPE can still be found in school, commercial, and industrial settings.

Despite the public outcry, the mounting scientific evidence of harm, and the actions of more and more states, the chemical industry continues to resist efforts to replace BPA with safer alternatives. Steve Taylor added, "Of the 80,000 chemicals in use today, Maine scientists have identified over 1700 as already proven harmful to children. Yet the chemical industry opposes doing anything about just two of the very worst. This flies in the face of common sense and suggests they just don't get it. Parents, consumers, and retail businesses are all demanding safe products. The chemical industry needs to wake up and spend their energy developing safer chemicals instead of defending toxic ones."

If the Maine Legislature affirms the Board's decision to phase out the use of BPA in baby bottle and sippy cups, Maine will become the 9th state to do so, following the action of Massachusetts just this week.

Posted by on December 17th, 2010 No Comments

The Story of Cosmetics

Lead in lipstick? Carcinogens in baby shampoo?  Synthetic chemicals in fragrances?  It's easy to let the cosmetic industry bring you down...but hope is not lost.

Join Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Maine Women's Policy Center for the screening of the new film "The Story of Cosmetics," and learn from a panel of experts about what you can do to give the beauty industry a makeover.  

Authored by Annie Leonard, The Story of Cosmetics explores health implications for consumers, workers, and the environment, and shows how we can move the industry away from hazardous chemicals and toward safer alternatives. 

Check out the film teaser below, and then join us on July 26th for the full film.

Event: Screening of The Story of Cosmetics
Date: Monday, July 26, 2010
Time: 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Address: 561 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101

Posted by on July 13th, 2010 No Comments