Maine Roadmap for Safer Children’s Products Sent to Washington, DC
NRCM and its Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine partners
(Augusta) Congresswoman Chellie Pingree got an early Mother’s Day gift from her daughter Hannah Pingree today on behalf of all the children of Maine. Hannah Pingree is Maine’s Speaker of the House and the sponsor of last year’s successful Kid-Safe Products Law, which created a system for Maine to get dangerous toxic chemicals out of children’s products and replaced with safer alternatives.
Hannah Pingree decided to take on this issue after being part of a statewide study in 2006 that tested Maine people for the presence of toxic chemicals in their bodies. Pingree stated, “After I had my blood tested and I discovered that I had a huge number of chemicals, I was angry. I knew that if I had I had high levels in my blood, any other person would too. I also knew we had to do something to protect the thousand of babies that are born every year who, despite their mother’s best efforts to protect them, are exposed to toxic chemicals in the everyday products we all use.
Hannah presented her mom with the Kid-Safe law and urged her to use Maine’s roadmap in Washington and help reform the federal system. She added, “With this new law, we were able to take a huge step forward in Maine and I’m hopeful that Congress can do the same.”
Chellie Pingree expressed eagerness to take the Maine model to Washington. She stated, “It’s time we get the worst chemicals out of the system, provide good information to consumers and small businesses, and make sure no parent has to worry about whether their child is at risk every time they pick up their favorite toy.” Pingree said she has been working with other members of Congress and hopes to see legislation introduced later this year that will bring much needed reform to the way toxic chemicals are regulated.
Michael Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center and a co-founder of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, talked about the importance of system reform at the federal level. Belliveau stated, “Maine’s Kid-Safe Law is a common sense approach to replacing dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives, but we can’t go it alone. It is essential that our outdated federal system be overhauled.”
At the federal level, the primary target for reform is the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. This is the only major environmental statute that has never been updated. Critics say it is ineffective and filled with loopholes that have led to only a handful of chemical restrictions in 30 years, despite a list of 60,000 chemicals to be considered. Belliveau added, “Science has already proven that thousands of chemicals are dangerous. Yet the EPA has only required 200 to be tested and it has ultimately restricted the use of only five. This is an appalling record. We need immediate action to fix this broken system.”
Moms and dads from across Maine joined the Pingrees’ Mother’s Day event and presented the two Maine lawmakers with flowers and cards. Gail Carlson, a mother of two from Waterville stated, “I know I speak for moms everywhere when I say that we don’t want our children exposed to dangerous chemicals as they play with their toys, enjoy their favorite foods, or get washed up before bed.” The moms called on Congress to build on the Maine model so all parents could have the benefit of knowing the products they buy for their children are safe. Carlson added, “We’ll all benefit from this Mother’s Day gift. We know we can count on Maine lawmakers to help us keep our kids safe, and that means a lot to us.”>/font>