by Matt Prindiville, NRCM Clean Production Project Director
Senator Saviello, Representative Hamper and members of the Committee. My name is Matt Prindiville and I’m the Clean Production Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). Thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of the rule before you today.
As you have heard, many of the nation’s top scientists studying toxic chemicals weighed into the Board of Environmental Protection’s (BEP) process concerning bisphenol-A (BPA). Several of the people who testified before the BEP and submitted comments are principal researchers with the National Institute of Health’s $30 million dollar effort to study the harmful effects of BPA. These scientists provided numerous studies and evidence demonstrating bisphenol-A’s damaging effects in extremely minute doses due to it’s composition as an endocrine disrupting chemical – synthetic chemicals that look like human estrogens to the body, but which disrupt or destroy the body’s systems instead of harmonizing them, as natural hormones do.
You also heard about and can read the Endocrine Society’s (the world’s largest professional organization of practicing physician and research endocrinologists) report on endocrine disruptors where they singled out BPA as a toxic chemical that wreaks havoc with developing reproductive systems, paving the way for disorders, like reduced immune function, and impaired brain development, and diseases like breast and prostate cancers later in life. Indeed, as Dr. Deborah Rice lays out in the CDC support letter, “the current consensus of most scientists as well as US and International agencies, is that there is sufficient evidence that BPA produces adverse affects at environmentally relevant exposures.” That means that for the 93% of us that are walking around with BPA in our bodies from eating canned food or drinking out of polycarbonate plastic bottles, some of us – and more importantly some of our kids – are having their health impacted and their opportunities in life potentially cut short because of this chemical, at the levels that are in our bodies as we speak today.
In addition, businesses large and small, ranging from the Belfast Co-op and Big Barn Coffee Roasters in Maine to Whole Foods, a multi-billion dollar company urged the BEP to help level the playing field on BPA by getting it out of consumer products. Lastly, you’ve also heard how big companies like Nestle, Hain-Celestial, Con-Agra, Heinz and General Mills have pledged to eliminate BPA from their food packaging. These are huge companies and are major players in the canned food market, and they are getting out or have already moved out of BPA. It’s only a matter of time before this becomes the industry standard, and I’ll tell you what – I wish I knew which company – that makes the safer can lining – to invest in.
You have heard these concerns and many more and the BEP has provided you with a rule that restricts the use of BPA in reusable food and beverage containers – something that the marketplace has already largely accomplished. By any calculation, this is a small step forward. We’ve heard that industry may push for you to narrow the rule down to just baby bottles and sippy cups. Why would you do this? The science points to in-utero exposure to BPA as one of the most significant causes of related health problems later in life. BPA freely crosses the placenta, which means that if Mom is exposed to BPA, then the baby in the womb is exposed to BPA. This goes to the heart of what the Kid-Safe Products Law is all about. You have to follow the science around exposure and harm to make the right regulatory choices. If you truly care about protecting the health and future of Maine children, then you have go to where the exposure happens. If it’s coming from Mom’s water bottle, then you need to look at that. If, like deca, it’s coming off the television set, getting into house dust that the toddler’s ingesting from crawling around on the floor, then you need to look at that.
Lastly, I want to say that I’m frankly surprised that industry is here to speak in opposition to this rule. BPA is a priority toxic chemical for US EPA, the National Institutes of Health, Environment Canada and the European Union. As of this week, China has now announced that it intends to restrict the use of BPA in the products you’re considering today. The marketplace has largely moved out of BPA for use in reusable food and beverage containers. Many of the biggest canned food producers have pledged to stop using it in their packaging. Several other states have already banned BPA in infant formula and baby food. Nine other states have already taken action to restrict BPA. Not a single Maine business showed up to oppose the draft rule at the public hearing. We would urge them to stop stonewalling, stop defending the lowest common denominator and to start working for federal reform.
This law and this rule are about protecting Maine children’s health and we urge you to move forward.
Thank you and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
1 Diamanti-Kandarakis E et al. 2009 Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. Endocrine Reviews 30(4):293-342; http://www.endo-society.org/journals/scientificstatements/upload/edc_scientific_statement.pdf2 Rice, Ph.D., Deborah. “Rationale for Concurrence by Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the Designation of Bisphenol A as a Priority Chemical.” Maine Center for Disease Control: State Toxicologist’s Office. http://www.maine.gov/dep/oc/safechem/mecdc_concurrence_on_bpa_23Apr10%20_2_.pdf3 Ibid. “Well over 100 studies have documented adverse effects on growth, brain development, behavior, early onset of puberty, change in sex hormones, male fertility and immune function as a result of exposure to environmentally relevant exposures…”
4 McRandle, Paul. “New Report Grades Companies on BPA-free Progress.” http://www.simplesteps.org/articles/new-report-grades-companies-bpa-free-progress
http://www.biolreprod.org/content/65/4/1215.full.pdfhttp://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1002148http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.0030005http://www.aaronlevinelaw.com/DES%20epigenetic%20mechanism%20article.pdf6 “BPA crosses the placenta, remains active in the fetus, show rat and human studies.” Environmental Health News. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/bpa-crosses-placenta-is-active-form-in-fetus/>/a>