Mainers Gather At State House And Urge Lawmakers To Ban PFAS

Apr 17, 2019

Environment and health advocates gathered at the State House Wednesday morning to urge legislators to ban certain food-packaging that contain synthetic chemicals known as PFAS and phthalates.

Nika Beauchamp works for the Portland-based Environmental Health Strategy Center, and she says she is concerned about the effect those chemicals could have on her four-month-old child. She says a ban would help mothers like her protect their kids.

"I know how to research it,” she says. “I know all these things to avoid, but, you know, I can't totally avoid them, and that's just a shame."

These man-made chemicals have been linked to a range of health concerns, including cancer and decreased fertility. They appear in a range of food-related products such as microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers.

Gail Carlson teaches in the environmental studies program at Colby College. She says she has no doubt the chemicals should be removed from consumer products.

"The chemicals actually leach from the food-packaging material or the food contact material into the food, and we ingest it,” she says. “And ingestion is a major source of exposure."

Carlson spoke in favor of the new bill, which would ban some of these products from Maine.

Critics have expressed concern that a blanket ban on the chemicals would affect mills and forest industry, which manufacture some food packaging for export. They requested legislators refine the proposed bill.

The chemicals in question came to prominence recently when a dairy farmer said PFAS contaminated his farm and destroyed his dairy output.