March 18, 2013

Letters to the editor: Public deserves protection from toxins

As a Maine native and father of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, I am a careful label reader. Sure, my trips to the grocery store often take a bit longer, but I want to know exactly what is going into my family's bodies.

click image to enlarge

Toy tugboats made from recycled milk cartons that are free of BPA and phthalates are seen at the International Toy Fair in New York in 2010. Readers support a proposal to identify everyday products that contain phthalates, BPA and other toxic chemicals and remove the chemicals from these products.

2010 File Photo/The Associated Press

Unfortunately, even diligent label reading is not enough to protect my little ones from substances like the 49 "Chemicals of High Concern" identified by the state of Maine last year. These are chemicals proven through strong scientific evidence to cause cancer, reproductive problems and hormone disruption.

We all want our kids to live a long, healthy and prosperous life, so it's frightening to know that such chemicals are present in many household products.

It seems to me that the burden should not be on a parent to do the extensive research necessary to figure out whether, for example, my son's fleece pajamas contain a carcinogenic flame retardant.

This is a perfect example of when government regulation to help protect the public is urgently called for.

So I am proud to see Maine considering legislation that would do just that. "An Act to Further Protect Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals" will identify which products contain the worst toxic chemicals, prioritize new chemicals for action and close a loophole that currently blocks the state from regulating BPA in food packaging for adults and kids over age 3.

Most corporations are by definition concerned with their bottom line over the public's health. Keep in mind that Monsanto went as far as to sue Maine's Oakhurst in an effort to prevent labeling milk as not containing the artificial growth hormone rBGH.

I support L.R. 1627 and urge my elected officials and fellow Maine citizens to do the same.

Dustin Urban

Portland

I'm not your typical voice for more stringent toxic chemical regulation. I'm neither a parent nor a pregnant mother, not a doctor or physician, but I am 28, a proud lifelong Mainer and an advocate for the future of my state.

I attended the deliberative sessions on BPA prohibition for packaging in baby food and infant formula, and I applaud the Board of Environmental Protection for voting unanimously in favor of the prohibition.

This is a first step, but BPA is the worst and we're only able to protect children under 3 from this dangerous chemical.

Maine has identified 49 "Chemicals of High Concern" that are commonly found in our everyday products. Yet no labeling exists to inform us as to where they are and what they're in. When it comes to consumer purchasing knowledge, we're all in the dark.

Our new state entry sign boasts, "Maine: Open for Business," but I can't help but worry at what cost. I refuse to let my state be a laboratory for the chemical industry and our kids its test subjects. That's not "the way life should be."

Sure, product labeling for toxic chemicals is expensive, but so are my 30-year-old brother's cancer treatments. With a rising percentage of miscarriages, increased learning disabilities and a frightening rate of cancer diagnosis, we must demand an avenue that adequately protects our most vulnerable from exposure to these chemicals because industry just doesn't care.

State Sen. Seth Goodall's bill, "An Act to Further Protect Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals," will identify which products contain the worst toxic chemicals, prioritize new chemicals and close a loophole that currently blocks the state from regulating BPA in food packaging for everyone over 3. Concerned Mainers statewide, take action and contact your district representatives and senators.

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