Posts Tagged ‘Maine’
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!
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!
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!
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.
We are excited to share the Maine Bisphenol A (BPA) bill has become law! The new law will phase out BPA in baby bottles and reusable food and beverage containers to further protect Mainers from the harmful chemical.
The bill became law without Governor LePage’s signature, who said the worst BPA could do is give some women “little beards.” 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. The BPA phase out is a common-sense approach to protecting the health and safety of Maine families.
Statement from the Environmental Health Strategy Center, April 22, 2011
BPA Phase-Out to Become New Maine Law Today
Governor LePage Decides Not to Sign or Veto Bill Enacted by the Legislature
Use of the chemical BPA (bisphenol A) in baby bottles, sippy cups and other reusable food and beverage containers will no longer be legal in Maine effective January 1, 2012. The Maine Legislature approved the BPA bill April 12th and the measure was sent to Governor LePage for his signature. The Governor had ten days to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without signature. The deadline for the Governor’s action is the end of the day today and, according to a spokesperson for the Governor, he has decided neither to sign nor veto it so it will become law at the end of the day.
Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a Maine-based public health organization that has spearheaded a campaign in support of the BPA phase-out law issued the following statement regarding enactment of the new law:
"It's great for Maine kids and families that the BPA phase-out has been finalized. It's also sad that the Governor didn't listen to the overwhelming scientific, Legislative and public support and actually sign the phase-out himself.
This phase-out of BPA was the common sense thing to do. The scientific evidence of harm from BPA and the availability of safer alternatives was overwhelming. It's a fight that was really over before the Governor ever picked it.
The major source of BPA exposure for babies and children right now is infant formula and baby food packaging. The Governor may get another chance to decide if he stands with Maine families or with the chemical industry if a phase out of BPA for those sources comes to his desk in the next few years."
BPA was identified as Maine’s first priority chemical under the Kid-Safe Products Act. State and federal scientists have linked BPA exposure to harmful effects on brain development, behavior and the prostate gland among other health concerns. Governor LePage identified overturning the BPA rule as part of his environmental rollback proposal released in January and made national news when he wrongly stated that the worst BPA could do is give some women “little beards”. The new law received overwhelming bipartisan support with a vote of 35-0 in the Senate and 145-3 in the House of Representatives.
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.
In 2008, Maine’s Governor John Baldacci signed into law an Act to Protect Children's Health and the Environment from Toxic Chemicals in Toys and Children's Products. This law is aimed at protecting children’s health from unnecessary and dangerous chemicals in everyday consumer products. It is also an important step toward protecting Maine’s natural environment, as well as women of childbearing age, from the toxic effects of chemicals.
The law requires Maine to adopt a list of priority chemicals of high concern, forces manufacturers to disclose the toxic chemicals they add to products, and authorizes the state to require safer alternatives whenever they are available. This point is so critical because it finally places the responsibility on the manufacturer, not the consumer.
The first list of chemicals has been released and is available on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s website. Reporter Meg Haskell with the Bangor Daily News recently wrote about the list.
“At 83 pages, the list includes many compounds whose names would be unfamiliar to most people. But some, such as lead, mercury and formaldehyde, are widely recognized for their toxic effects on babies and young children.
Others, such as phthalates, bisphenol-A and deca, have become more familiar in recent years as public health and environmental groups have sounded the alarm about their presence in household goods.
Infant formula, plastic shower curtains, toys, cosmetics, furniture and home electronics are among the products that can contain and emit the toxic chemicals.”
This list reinforces the concern and need for national reform, don’t you think?
Efforts to ban specific toxic chemicals like Deca and BPA make a difference. The reality, however, is that there are more than 82,000 different chemicals in production. Dealing with harmful chemicals one by one could take a lifetime. Or more. A more effective way to protect ourselves from exposure is through policy that takes a precautionary approach. This framework requires thorough evaluation of chemicals so that unsafe chemicals don’t make it to the market in the first place and promotes the use of the least toxic alternatives.
Last April, Maine took a huge step in this direction last April with the passage of the Kid-Safe Products Law. This landmark law will reduce children’s exposure to chemicals that based on “credible scientific evidence” may be harmful to our health. PPNNE worked with Alliance for A Clean and Healthy Maine on the bill and applauds its passage.
The Kid-Safe Products Law applies to children’s products, but don’t just think of sippy cups and toys. ‘Children’s products’ are defined broadly to include products to which kids are exposed. While exceptions are written in for some everyday products it is clear the bill was written with children’s safety in mind. For example, while food is generally exempt from the law, the law does apply to baby food and infant formula. Furthermore, the bill specifically targets chemicals that are known or likely reproductive or developmental toxicants. It also singles out endocrine disrupters, which are frequently linked to reproductive health problems.
Roughly one year later implementation is underway in Maine, and the law has become a national role model of sorts.
VP Bev Shadley Speaks about Good Chemistry at Greendrinks
Good times were had last night at Portland's Greendrinks! PPNNE VP Bev Shadley spoke to a crowd of 350 people about environmental toxins and the adverse affects they have on the health of women, men, and children.
Don't forget about our Mercury Thermometer Exchange and Plastic Nalgene Bottle Drop on Saturday (April 18) from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at our Planned Parenthood Health Center on 970 Forest Ave in Portland! For more info, email Hilary at email@example.com.
Learn about the links between environmental toxins and reproductive health at a series of events designed to bring "Good Chemistry" to Portland (ME). Join PPNNE and other environmentally minded Portlanders on Tuesday, April 14, from 5:30-8:00 p.m. for trivia games, free condoms and snacks, and more at our kick-off Greendrinks event at O'Naturals. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.