March 5, 2011

Letters to the editor, March 5. 2011:
BPA ban necessary for Maine

Inconclusive science doesn't mean there aren't risks. Scientific studies will rarely, if ever, reach 100 percent agreement regarding the health effects of chemicals like BPA.

That's the nature of the science analyzing complex compounds and systems. Gov. Paul LePage should err on the side of caution, especially when the risks may include harm to children's health as well as breast cancer in women (those "little beards" are not the worst-case scenario).

LePage might be interested to know that studies have found decreased sperm counts in rats and results consistent with erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems in men.

His opposition to "Obamacare" doesn't make sense, either. Like most conservatives, LePage claims to prefer market-based policy solutions and individual responsibility.

Yet President Obama's policy would require all Americans to take some responsibility for their own health and purchase insurance (on the private market), and they oppose it.

Perhaps they hate the idea that taxpayers will be paying to partially subsidize insurance purchasing by low-income families? Surely they know we are already paying for the care for the poor and uninsured through inflated health care prices, higher insurance premiums and tax-funded programs like MaineCare and grants to hospitals.

Also, making it harder to register and vote is at odds with liberty and democracy (true, same-day registration does tend to bring in more votes for Democrats, but still ).

And just in case LePage is considering a move like Gov. Scott Walker has made in Wisconsin: Allowing workers collective-bargaining rights isn't communism and most public sector workers are already doing their "belt-tightening" part through their willingness to earn less compensation (yes, including those good benefits) for often difficult work that can be dangerous (prison guards, cops, firefighters, child welfare workers) or involves helping harder-to-serve, complicated individuals and families (social workers, nurses).

Lisa Morris
Portland

I read with shock that Gov. Paul LePage has said of the side effects of bisphenol-A, "So the worst case is some women may have little beards."

I recalled with sadness what happened to a little girl of 12, who suddenly stopped growing, who grew a "little beard," and hair in other places, who put on excessive weight, who lost muscle tone, who had migraine headaches, and more symptoms most distressing.

It took time to discover the cause, but it was found she had Cushings disease, a rare disease of the endocrine system, of which estrogen is a member. Cushing's causes are not completely understood.

She had an operation on her pituitary gland, brain surgery -- scary, dangerous, not without side effects. She was very brave. She began to grow again, is now a lovely young and talented woman in her early 20s, but she will require constant medical supervision because of her "pre-existing condition."

During the time when the cause was being sought, she suffered many cruel insults from friends too young to know better. Now, it appears, our grown-up governor is among those who are too immature to know better.

Fortunately, she is surrounded with loving friends; however, she must worry about affording health care because she became ill when she was a child. She committed the cardinal sin of having a "pre-existing condition" at 12. Who's next on our governor's list of people to insult, to humiliate, to abuse? Is there no end to his cruelty?

Albie Davis
Thomaston

 

I am writing as a wife, a mother of one child, pregnant with another, and a member of the Maine Public Health Association. I was left speechless and disgusted by Gov. Paul LePage's recent comments regarding the toxic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), including his remark that the worst effect of the chemical is that "some women may have little beards."

This comment is insulting, disrespectful and ignorant, and it truly frightens me that he is in a position to make these decisions about the future of my child, my unborn baby and my family, despite what dozens of scientists have proven to be fact.

Allowing a well-known toxic chemical like BPA to be introduced back into the Maine market of baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula cans and baby food jar lids is purposely and knowingly increasing our children's risk of brain damage, reproductive harm, several types of cancer and obesity.

There is no reason to roll back public health and consumer protections that eight other states and other countries have implemented and that are working well to protect families.

We should not weaken our standards and expose our children to known toxic chemicals while waiting for the federal government to update a law that is 35 years old. I hope other leaders in Maine realize the dangers of LePage's proposal to repeal parts of the Kid-Safe Products Act and will work to maintain Maine's current BPA ban and make it a "priority chemical" under that same law.

As a Maine resident, I have taken pride in the many state initiatives that make it easier to make healthy choices for myself and my family. It is disheartening and concerning that a deliberate step could be taken to change this course and make it more difficult for me to keep my family healthy and safe.

Joan Ingram
South Portland

 

As an endocrinologist and president of the Maine Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, I am writing to address the proposed elimination or weakening of the Kid-Safe Products Act and the elimination of restrictions on bisphenol-A (BPA).

We are surrounded by thousands of synthetic chemicals, most of which remain unstudied in terms of their impact on human health. In an attempt to fill the void left by the federal government's inaction, Maine passed the Kid-Safe Products Act to establish a scientifically based methodology for determining which chemicals have the greatest negative effects on human health and for which safer alternatives exist.

Health professionals from across Maine supported this bill because it established a sound, step-by-step science-based process for assessing chemical safety. The Endocrine Society, the pre-eminent professional association of endocrinologists, has published convincing data implicating BPA as an endocrine disrupting chemical. EDCs are chemicals that disrupt the action of one of the body's natural hormones by mimicking that hormone in an unnatural way.

Contrary to Gov. Paul LePage's statement, EDCs that mimic estrogen, such as BPA, do not cause "women to grow little beards." They can, however, disrupt the normal sexual and reproductive development of fetuses, children and adults, with grave consequences. For this reason, BPA was designated as the first environmental toxic chemical to be phased out of children's products in Maine.

Unfortunately, there is now an attempt to ignore the underlying science and roll back the progress we have made. I urge the Maine Legislature to stand firmly behind sound scientific data and good science-based policy. It is vital for the health of all Mainers.

Daniel S. Oppenheim, Ph.D., M.D.
Falmouth

 

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