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Chemical Reform in Maine

Posted by Safer States on Jan 4, 2010


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As we begin the new year, Safer States organizations in Maine are hard at work trying to keep the most toxic chemicals away from children, babies, and vulnerable populations. Gail Carlson, board member of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, wrote an editorial urging strong reform at the federal and state levels.

In 2008, Maine passed the “Kids-Safe Products Act,” one of the strongest toxic chemical laws in the nation. It requires that the state adopt a list of priority chemicals which are harmful to children, and manufacturers disclose those chemicals and move toward safer alternatives.

In December, a critical hearing on implementation of that law took place. The Department of Environmental Protection has issued draft rules that propose a process for regulating the use of Chemicals of High Concern in children’s products and imposes fees on manufacturers and distributors of children’s products to cover costs of the new program to ensure product safety.

Chemical industry lobbyists are trying to derail the process and encourage the State to drag their feet on the laws implementation. Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center said,“the chemical industry acts like the tobacco industry trying to sow the seeds of doubt and manufacture confusion in hopes of buying time and delaying the inevitable but Maine people want products that are safe for our families now so these rules should move toward swift adoption.”

Paul Liebow, board member of Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility, wrote an editorial in the Portland Press Herald encouraging strong next steps to protect the citizens of Maine:

“It’s time we all start critically examining the smiling reassurances we are getting from the chemical industry that nothing is wrong.”

As Gail Carlson points out in her editorial, toxic chemical laws need to be handled on a state and federal level.

“Maine can’t be expected to solve this major public health threat alone, and changes in Maine law don’t protect my nieces and nephews in Minnesota, Florida and California, who deserve the same protections as my own children.”

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