By Susan M. Cover, Staff Writer
AUGUSTA — Environmentalists hope an executive order signed Wednesday will make the state a cleaner place.
In a Cabinet Room ceremony, Gov. John Baldacci signed a document directing the state to avoid buying hazardous products for pest control and lawn care. It also directs the state to buy uniforms that don’t require dry cleaning with toxic products.
“We are all at risk — our children, especially — from hazardous chemicals,” Baldacci said. “When there are toxic materials in the house, kids will find them.”>/p>
The order directs the state to begin a consumer education program on safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals.
In addition, the state Department of Transportation will consider alternatives to wheel weights that currently contain lead. The goal is to further limit the amount of mercury, lead, pesticides and flame retardants in the state.
In general, safer alternatives don’t cost more money, said Jon Hinck of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
“These are sensible, available steps that aren’t taken because of a business-as-usual approach,” he said.
Michael Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, said a task force will work to identify ways to bring more environmentally sensitive industry to the state.
“We appreciate the governor’s leadership in protecting the environmental health of Maine families, while at the same time developing new economic opportunities for Maine businesses and workers,” he said.
The 12-member task force will have until Nov. 30 to release an interim report and Oct. 1, 2007 for a final report.
Several groups, including the Learning Disabilities Association of Maine, Maine Labor Group on Health, and the Maine Public Health Association supported the executive order.