October 30, 2013

Maine moms, activists rally for changes in chemical safety bill

Critics say a bill in the Senate would undermine states’ efforts to protect consumers.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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“I’m not going to have a bill that pre-empts all of the good things that are happening in the country,” Boxer said Tuesday. She said there were “a lot of discussions” in her committee on revising the legislation, and she hopes to have a rewritten bill ready “as soon as possible.”

“The only thing that we felt worked in (the current law) is it did not restrict the states, and this bill does,” said Tracy Gregoire, healthy children’s project director for the Learning Disabilities Association of Maine, who has a 4-year-old son with special needs.

Maine has already banned or required phase-outs of a number of chemicals.

For instance, lawmakers voted in 2004, then again in 2007, to phase out three flame retardants commonly used in mattresses and household furniture. Research has linked the flame retardants – which leach from household goods and are carried in dust – to development problems in children.

In 2008, the Maine Legislature passed the Kid Safe Products Act, which established a process for the Department of Environmental Protection to identify “chemicals of high concern” and require manufacturers to disclose any products containing the chemicals.

The law was used to ban sales of children’s sippy cups and other reusable beverage containers made with bisphenol-A, BPA, a plasticizing agent linked to cancer and childhood development problems.

The law was enacted during the administration of Democratic Gov. John Baldacci. The administration of Republican Gov. Paul LePage sought to repeal the law soon after taking office in 2011 and has since been accused of slowing the law’s application to other chemicals. LePage vetoed an expansion of the law earlier this year.

Megan Rice, a mother of two young girls from Belgrade, said she tries to be proactive by researching products before she buys. But Rice learned only recently that the laundry detergent she was using received a poor safety grade from chemical safety watchdog groups.

“I’m just tired of finding out after the fact that something I thought was safe really wasn’t,” Rice said between meetings with members of Maine’s congressional delegation.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:


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