Statement by Matt Prindiville, NRCM Toxics Project Director
“Today, Representative Pingree is moving forward to ensure Maine families and wildlife are protected from preventable diseases caused by the toxic chemical, deca-BDE. The sooner this bill is adopted by Congress, the sooner our children’s health will be protected.
“The scientific evidence is clear. Deca threatens childhood brain development, and can cause or contribute to learning disabilities that last into adulthood. The absorption of deca and its breakdown products, is a very real threat to women and children, because these chemicals are passed to infants through breast milk and to children through contact with household dust.
“And our children aren’t the only ones at risk. Because deca is long-lived in the environment and builds up in the food chain, wildlife – especially predators at the top of the food chain – are also seriously impacted.
“A 2007 study showed that endangered Maine Peregrine falcons had the highest levels of deca ever recorded in wildlife. The Peregrine falcon was threatened in the mid ’70s with extinction, due to reproductive failure caused by the now banned pesticide, DDT. Today, the threat of DDT has been replaced with deca, which accumulates in the peregrines’ food chain and can cause the birds harm.
“The good news is that we can have fire safety, healthy kids and a clean environment. We don’t need to use deca. There are safer alternatives widely available that meet the same fire safety standards without harming our kids or Maine wildlife. I think we have both an opportunity and an obligation to enact legislation when we know that there’s a risk out there like this and a clear way to eliminate it.
“Today’s press event comes on the heels of an announcement yesterday that several of the manufacturers of deca are beginning to phase it out. You can be sure that Representative Chellie Pingree’s bill and Speaker Hannah Pingree’s law are the reasons why they have come to the table. In 2007, they poured millions of dollars into a failed campaign to kill Speaker Pingree’s bill to phase deca out of consumer products.
“Most importantly, we don’t want the chemical corporations substituting another toxic chemical for deca. That won’t protect our health and Representative Pingree’s bill ensures that they move in the direction of using safer substitutes. It’s clear that we need strong regulatory action on toxic chemicals to drive the market towards safer alternatives, and to ensure that deca is truly phased out.
“On behalf of our children and the wildlife of Maine, NRCM and the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine commend Representative Chellie Pingree and Speaker Hannah Pingree for their leadership to protect our health from exposure to toxic chemicals like deca.”