I was one of 25 Maine people who volunteered to be part of a study that looked at the presence of chemicals in my body. Specifically, I was tested for the presence of seven phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates).

Phthalates are used in many household products to soften plastics – think vinyl shower curtains or ponchos or kids’ lunchboxes. I was extremely surprised to find out that I had a very high level (the second-highest in the study group). The level of the phthalate DEHP in me was four times higher than levels in 95 percent of all Americans.

Why should I be concerned? Science shows that phthalates reduce testosterone levels and thyroid hormones necessary for human development. This, in turn, causes problems with the reproductive system. I am beyond my reproductive years, but I wonder what levels my daughters and grandchildren have in their systems and how they get exposed.

The most disturbing fact is that I have no idea where I came into contact with these chemicals. I am a horse farmer who spends a lot of time outdoors, and I’ve been healthy. I eat right and exercise. Yet I can’t avoid these harmful chemicals because there is no way to know what products contain them.

I support the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine’s request, via citizen petition, for the Department of Environmental Protection to look more closely at phthalates and to require the disclosure of their use in household products. This is not a request for labeling but one that requires manufacturers to let Maine know what products contain phthalates.

Target and Walmart already require many of their suppliers to disclose this information. People should be able to avoid household products that contain these chemicals if they so choose.

Rep. Donald Marean, R-Hollis.