High Priority Toxic Chemicals Would be Identified in Food Packaging
June 19, 2013
AUGUSTA -- The Maine House on Wednesday gave initial approval to a bill that would help protect pregnant women and children from harmful chemicals in household products such as toys and food containers.
LD 1181, sponsored by Senator Seth Goodall of Richmond, “An Act to Further Strengthen the Protection of Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals,” would require the biggest food and beverage companies – those with more than $1 billion in gross annual sales - to report their use of high priority chemicals such as BPA in metal food packaging like cans and lids.
“As a husband and a father of three young children, I can say first hand that this is a common sense bill that will help families across Maine protect their kids and make better informed decisions at the grocery store,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, a co-sponsor of the measure.
Last year, Maine named 49 of the “worst of the worst” Chemicals of High Concern. The list identifies chemicals proven through strong, scientific evidence to cause cancer, reproductive problems, and hormone disruption.There has been no procedure to reduce exposure to these chemicals.
Maine has named two Priority Chemicals, bisphenol A (BPA) and nonylphenols (NPE’s). As amended, LD 1181 would give Maine regulators access to previously unreleased data about the use of these chemicals in food packaging. The bill would also authorize the DEP to get manufacturers to report on their use of Chemicals of High Concern.
During the House debate on the bill, Rep. Paul McGowan, D-York, a member of the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee said mothers from across the state came to testify in support of the measure.
“I lost track of the number of mothers who came to testify at our hearing on this bill. They had taken a day off from work, arranged child care, driven for hours to ask us one simple thing: give us the information we need to make the best choices we can for the health of our children,” said McGowan.
Scientific evidence shows that chemicals commonly used in household products can lead to expensive chronic diseases, including reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. A University of Maine study estimates that just four environmentally-related childhood diseases in Maine lead to at least $380 million in preventable costs every year.
“Maine families will soon have the information they begged us for to help them make safer consumer choices,” said Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner. “Maine is leading the battle to target the nastiest of the toxic chemicals that are a clear hazard to children and pregnant women.”
The bill gained unanimous approval in the Senate on Tuesday. It faces further votes in the House and Senate before it goes to the Governor for his signature.
During, the public hearing the LePage administration opposed the measure. In recent days, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection Patricia Aho has come under fire for putting the interests of the chemical industry ahead of the environment and public health.
Jodi Quintero [Eves], 841-6279; Ann Kim [McGowan, Grant], 233-1838