Letter: Maine DEP fails to act on phthalates

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Last year I joined with over 2,000 Mainers and signed a petition to spur action on a class of hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates. The petition called for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to require manufacturers to disclose which of their products contain phthalates so that we have more information about the products we bring into our homes.

Just recently the Maine DEP changed the wording of the petition and significantly limited the scope of products that would be included. The DEP is proposing phthalate disclosure for only those products that are made and marketed for children under age 13. I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid, I came into contact with lots of household products that were not “marketed to children,” like my mom’s hand lotion or the kitchen floors I crawled on. But according to the Maine DEP, any product for the 13-and-up market can include phthalates without disclosure.

This loophole allows product manufacturers to continue to keep their use of dangerous chemicals hidden from consumers. Pregnant women will not be informed if the products they buy contain a chemical that could lead to an unhealthy pregnancy – and there is a lot of scientific evidence linking phthalate exposure to reproductive problems and birth defects. Why is the DEP leaving pregnant women in the dark? It is clear the DEP is not acting to protect our health and it is time for our elected officials to pick up the slack.

Andy Jones