Critics: Maine's Proposed Rules on Phthalates Fall Short

Jan 15, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine - Health and environmental groups in Maine are expressing concern about the state's proposed regulation of a group of hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection wants to elevate four of them to "priority chemical" status, but only for consumer products targeting children under 12.  

Last May more than 2,000 Mainers petitioned the DEP to require manufacturers to report the use of phthalates in hundreds of household products they sell in Maine: personal care products, as well as soft vinyl plastics, packaging and flooring.

Hundreds of people testified in support. Many urged the department to consider the overwhelming scientific evidence that links phthalates to learning disabilities, reproductive problems, asthma and allergies. This week the DEP responded by proposing a rule that would limit phthalate reporting.

"We feel the DEP has decided to ignore the science by dropping pregnant women from their proposed rule," says Kathy Kilrain del Rio of the Maine Women's Lobby. Kilrain del Rio says the proposed regulation shows a blatant disregard for the state's science-based Kid Safe Products Act, which is designed to protect children and pregnant women in Maine from dangerous chemicals.

"The science is overwhelming that exposure to fetuses is a serious health concern," she says. "And right now, pregnant women are in the dark about what products have phthalates, so they can't make decisions about how to have a healthy pregnancy because they don't know what products what may or may not have these toxic chemicals."

The Coalition for a Clean and Healthy Maine is calling on Maine lawmakers to help correct the proposed rule. Public comments are being taken until Feb. 17. A call to the Maine DEP was not returned by airtime.