by Abby King, NRCM Toxics Policy Advocate
Good afternoon Senator Boyle, Representative Welsh, and members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. My name is Abby King and I am the Toxics Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I am a resident of Brunswick.
NRCM opposes this bill, which would create a definition in Maine law under the Kid-safe Product Act that would create a major new loophole. KSPA was enacted in 2007 to protect children from toxic chemicals in household products and this bill would undermine the state’s ability to do just that.
Under KSPA, companies that manufacture everyday household products that contain chemicals that are “contaminants” are exempt from regulation by the state. And, indeed, it is a legitimate and necessary task to distinguish chemical “contaminants” in products from those that are intentionally added. As you’ll hear later this afternoon, a separate bill, LD 1181, contains such a definition that we support.
A true contaminant would be a chemical that was present in a manufactured item because, for example, it was present in airborne dust in the factory or in the municipal water used in producing the product.
However, the definition in question would undermine the authority of Maine’s DEP to regulate chemicals in products that the children of Maine use every day. The definition in this bill has been promoted by the chemical and toy manufacturing industries because it creates a much broader definition than what you or I would normally consider to be a contaminant.
For example, the bill would allow “incompletely reacted chemical mixtures” to meet the definition of a contaminant. The chemical industry has exploited a similar definition in Washington State to bypass some reporting requirements for products that do contain chemicals that their law was designed to address.
For example, BPA. It’s a chemical monomer that manufacturers intentionally mix with other chemical monomers to create a chemical polymer called epoxy resin. This polymer serves as the plastic coating that lines the inside of metal cans. Two-thirds of the weight of the epoxy resin is BPA. Some amount of this BPA leaches out of the plastic and exposes consumers. If this bill were enacted, manufacturers of metal cans could claim that the BPA present in their product was a contaminant, since the BPA that leaches out of the can lining is a “incompletely reacted chemical mixture.”
This bill would also hinder the state’s ability to protect Maine people from exposure from other toxic chemicals. It could enable manufacturers of products containing known endocrine disruptors such as phthalates and parabens, and known carcinogens such as formaldehyde and vinyl chloride, to escape some or all requirements to report on them and thus avoid regulation under KSPA.
The Kid-safe Products Act creates a critically important structure that allows Maine to identify the worst chemicals, identify safer alternatives, and phase out the most dangerous products. I urge you to vote Ought Not to Pass on LD 365, which would negate all the hard work that has gone into creating a logical, science-based system that helps protect the health and well-being of Maine people.
I appreciate this opportunity to testify on this bill and would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.