By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,129)
A diverse group of advocates brought their concerns about phthalates in household products to the forefront yesterday at a noon rally at Monument Square in downtown Portland. People on their lunch break were given an opportunity to learn about this chemical and its presence in household products. The event was hosted by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine as well as other non-profits in the State.
Phthalate exposure to young men can cause serious health effects. It can cause abnormal development of male sex organs, learning and behavior problems, increased rates of asthma and allergies and a greater risk of prostate and testicular cancer. Phthalates readily escape from products and enter the human body through breathing, eating and skin contact, including the frequent hand-to-mouth activity and teething toddlers.
The difficulty arises from the fact that there is no way to know what household products contain phthalates because information on phthalates is not provided on packaging or available in an internet search. However, the chemical is commonly used to soften vinyl plastic and are routinely added to hundreds of every day products and building materials found in the home. It is also a frequent ingredient of “fragrance” found in many lotions, cosmetics and other personal care products.
“So much more can be done to protect the young men of Maine from these devastating chronic illnesses,” said Rep. Matt Moonen, a state legislator from Portland. “It’s time to take the guesswork out of keeping our kids safe from phthalates. Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Act is a powerful tool for helping us get better information about which products contain dangerous chemicals, but it’s not being used to its potential. The citizen-initiated rule before the DEP would help parents and pregnant women avoid dangerous products and it would create market incentives for safer alternatives. It’s simple and common sense. I urge the DEP to adopt it quickly.”
Last month a group of moms, health professionals and public health advocates submitted 2,071 petitions from 168 Maine towns to the Maine Department of Environental PRotection (DEP) that would require manufacturers to report their use of four phthalates in products sold in Maine. The DEP now has until mid-August to schedule a public hearing. The full text of the proposed rule can be found at http://bit.ly/RCWKKM.