What LePage’s “reforms” mean for Maine parents

Feb 1, 2011 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

There are many things about Governor LePage regulatory “reform” proposals that could impact the quality of my family’s life here in Maine, from developing the North Woods to loosening restrictions on dirty air emissions.  But a couple of proposals in particular really frustrated me as a parent.  LePage’s proposal to repeal the BPA ban and the toxic flame retardant ban. The BPA ban phased out the toxic chemical in consumer products such as baby bottles and sippy cups.  The bill had strong support and there wasn’t a single Maine based business that testified against the bill.  But it received plenty of opposition from deep pocketed chemical industries, such as Dow Chemical.

While Washington based groups like the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Chemistry Council have supported a repeal of the ban, local grocers, including the Maine Grocers Association have not taken an active role and have not taken a stance on the ban.

I am the mother of two young boys, ages 17 months and 2 and a half.

My boys on the shore of Moosehead Lake

I spend a considerable amount of time combing through labels on baby products to make sure that the materials aren’t toxic.  It is time consuming to ground truth the harmful effects of chemicals.  What are the hormone disrupting effects of Bispehnol-A (BPA)?  Will that stain resistant/flame resistant perfluorinated synthetic chemical (PFC) on that couch give my boys bladder cancer?  So my attitude is to err on the side of being safe by buying products with as few chemicals as possible.  You would be surprised at how challenging  it is to achieve even that tepid goal.  But last year, Maine lawmakers took considerable strides towards making my decision making easier and safer by enacting bans on known toxic chemicals in kids products, through the Kids Safe Products Law.

Why are we trying so hard to appease out-of-state chemical companies?  Dan Demeritt, LePage’s communication director, dryly pointed out that BPA-free products are available on the market, parents don’t have to choose to buy products that contain the chemical.  This is the “people before politics” response?  As a parent that is constantly pressed for time (aren’t we all?) who frequently does shopping with 2 kids piled into a shopping cart where 5 minutes too long can spell “melt-down”, I don’t have time to read through all the product disclaimers.  Why should any parent have to take that extra step to protect their children when a simple solution is already in place?

I was pleased to see that Republican Senator Dana Dow took a stand on this issue.  He works in the furniture industry and relayed a story of a simple blood test revealed soaring high toxicity levels for PFCs.  Take a look at the link, Senator Dow testifies at around 8 minutes in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qlc5urnzB50

This issue impacts all of us.  Will Maine choose to protect our children over out of state chemical companies?  Next time you are barreling down a grocery aisle trying to read the label, remember to call your representative and help them figure this one out.