I recently learned about a study that found detectable and in some cases, high levels of a dangerous chemical called phthalates in the bodies of 25 Mainers.

Phthalates are often called “the everywhere chemical” because they are found in so many products. They are used to soften plastics for things like shower curtains, food packaging and even hospital tubing. They are also hidden as fragrance in personal care products.

Phthalates are linked to serious human health effects like asthma, birth defects and learning disabilities. As a family doctor, father and grandfather, it more than worries me.

Most people, even health care professionals, don’t know what products we use in our homes and offices every day contain these chemicals.

Thankfully, more than 2,000 Mainers, including myself and other health care providers, parents and grandparents, signed a petition that was delivered recently to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, requiring the agency to consider a proposal to gather information from manufacturers about which products contain phthalates.

This information is important for us to protect our health, prevent illness and disease, and should be easily accessible. I’m urging the Maine DEP to put human health first so all Mainers have the right to know where these dangerous chemicals are hiding in our homes.

Jeffrey Saffer, M.D.

Cape Elizabeth