The LePage Administration has one last chance to show us where they stand on protecting us from toxic chemicals. Will they fail us again?
Phthalates… you may have never heard of them (pronounced thal-ATES), but these toxic chemicals have been linked to serious health concerns: birth defects in baby boys, learning and behavioral problems and asthma.
And they’re everywhere. Phthalates are in all kinds of household products, like raincoats, boots, shower curtains, tablecloths, personal care items—and even kids’ lunchboxes and backpacks.
Maine at Risk
Hormones Disrupted, a recent report by our sister organization the Environmental Health Strategy Center and the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine tested 25 Maine people for exposure to seven phthalates, four of which are state Chemicals of High Concern—and found that all participants had detectable levels in their bodies.
In May 2014, Prevent Harm and the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine delivered a citizen-led petition from more than 2,000 Mainers to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, initiating a new right-to-know rule that would tell us which of our consumer products contain phthalates.Among those signers were 140 state legislators from both sides of the aisle and voters from over 160 towns in all 16 counties.
LePage DEP Proposes Flawed Draft Rule
In early 2015, the Maine DEP released its draft phthalates rule. Unfortunately, the administration watered down our citizen proposal dramatically. They carved out a huge loophole, excluding pregnant women, even though prenatal exposure to toxic chemicals can pose grave risks, and the law is intended to extend to pregnant women.
This is not the first time that the DEP has arbitrarily cut pregnant women out of the product categories in its rulemakings. But it should be the last.
We’ve worked hard over the last several months to pressure the DEP to fix its flawed proposal. And we’re watching closely as the June 12, 2015 deadline approaches for the DEP to release its final phthalates rule.