Maine people are routinely exposed to hazardous industrial chemicals in products we use every day including phthalates from cosmetics and vinyl plastic, brominated flame retardants (PBDEs) from televisions and furniture, Teflon chemicals from stain-resistant and non-stick coatings, bisphenol A (BPA) from reusable water bottles and baby bottles, and toxic metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic.
There are over 80,000 different chemicals on the market in the U.S. today; only 200 of those were evaluated by the EPA before ending up on our shelves. You cannot assume a product is safe just because you can find it in a neighborhood store. Scientific research shows that many commonly used chemicals are hazardous and that even tiny amounts may threaten human health.
The chemicals mentioned above can be toxic or harmful to life and many are slow to degrade and also build up to high levels in the food chain. Babies in the womb and young children are especially vulnerable because they are still growing. Animal and human studies have linked these chemicals to learning and developmental disabilities, endocrine system damage, changes in sexual development, reproductive harm (including decreased sperm count in men), low birth weight and some cancers. Despite proven and suspected dangers to our health, industry is not required to demonstrate the safety of chemicals before adding them to consumer products, nor are they required to use safer alternatives to chemicals known to be hazardous. Consumers, and retail and manufacturing businesses, cannot get information about health hazards from chemicals used in everyday consumer products.
Fortunately, Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Act (KSPA) is working to protect Maine families and businesses. The KSPA passed in 2008 with the Maine Senate approving it 35-0 and the Maine House 129-9. It was amended unanimously in 2011. The KSPA has helped Maine identify almost 1,400 Chemicals of Concern already proven harmful to children by credible scientific evidence, and 49 of the most dangerous Chemicals of High Concern. The Act is supported by the Maine Medical Association, Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, over 200 Maine businesses, and dozens of other health, parent, and community organizations. For more information, visit www.cleanandhealthyme.org.