Large Crowd Speaks Out Against Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products
(AUGUSTA) The latest stop on the train carrying Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law to full implementation was the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) – a group that seldom sees large crowds at its public hearings. But that all changed on Thursday as parents, lawmakers, scientists, health professionals, as well as public health and environmental activists spoke out against toxic chemicals in consumer products and in favor of Maine’s ground-breaking new law. They urged the BEP to adopt important new rules to get the law fully in place and underway, while offering warnings of chemical industry stall tactics designed to delay and derail the law from ever working as it was intended.
Elisa Boxer, a mother from Scarborough, explained why she believes the new law is so important to Maine children and families. Boxer stated, “We all want the best for our kids – safety, good health, and a chance to learn and thrive. No family should have to worry about toxic chemicals in their children’s toys, their food, and in our everyday products.”
Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law was passed almost unanimously by the Maine legislature in 2008. Public health and environmental advocates have worked with parents and health professionals for years to see action taken on what is now recognized as the growing and dangerous problem of toxic chemical exposure. Steve Taylor, Campaign Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center stated, “Many consumer products, including those designed for children, contain hazardous chemicals that cause dangerous and expensive health effects. Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law provides the means to protect our children, but without adequate resources, the law will not be effective.”
The national chemical industry has been fighting Maine’s attempts to limit toxic chemicals in consumer products since the Kid-Safe bill was first introduced in the Maine Legislature two years ago. Michael Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center told the Board, “Be aware that the chemical industry will do everything it can to keep this law from moving forward. They have stated publically that they intend to throw as many roadblocks as they can into its path. We urge you to not be taken in by their tactics and instead adopt the rules before you without delay. Keeping Maine’s new law moving ahead will help us protect Maine kids from unnecessary dangerous chemicals.”
Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law is now a national model for state and federal legislation. Under the law, priority chemicals are selected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), manufacturers must disclose their use of these chemicals, and the priority chemicals must be replaced when safer alternatives are available and affordable. The rules before the BEP include the process for the DEP to recoup some of the law’s implementation costs from manufacturers that use the priority chemicals in their products. Matt Prindiville, Toxics Project Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine stated, “Maine legislators provided a clear path for the DEP to have the resources it needs to make this important law work. We ask the Board to take action on the rules right away because the sooner we get the law working, the sooner we can protect Maine kids and families from toxic chemicals in everyday products.