I am a pediatrician and father of two girls. Every day I see children with attentional problems, learning difficulties and asthma. I have patients who are being treated for childhood cancers.

Out of more than 80,000 chemicals used here in the U.S., only about 200 have ever been tested for safety. I cannot help but wonder, given the overwhelming scientific evidence, if some of these of these ailments are due to toxic exposures in children’s everyday lives.

The Chemical Safety Improvement Act currently before Congress is designed to improve our health by reducing exposure to toxic chemicals in our homes, workplaces and communities. It can achieve that goal only if certain serious shortcomings are remedied.

First, the chemical industry, rather than the Environmental Protection Agency, must bear the burden of demonstrating the safety of chemicals that they put in consumer products.

Next, vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly, must have additional protections.

And unless pre-emption in the bill is removed, if weak federal legislation is passed, states like Maine will be unable to pass stronger protections against toxic exposures.

I thank Sen. Susan Collins for co-sponsoring this bipartisan bill, and I urge her to support strengthening changes to this bill that will address these shortcomings so that we have a law that truly protects Maine’s citizens, particularly its children.

Jeff Peterson

Portland