Environment Maine
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Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine
By
Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine

“Mainers agree: there is no good reason our laws cannot keep us safe from toxic chemicals,” said Abby King, Toxics Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “This poll shows that people want toxic BPA off the shelves, and dangerous chemicals out of everyday products.”

The same Maine voters who elected Angus King and rejected the LePage agenda also support pending state and federal actions to remove dangerous chemicals from everyday products as reflected in a new poll. A new statewide research survey conducted less than a week before Election Day found that the same Maine electorate that swept Democrats back into the majority in the Legislature and elected Angus King as Maine’s next U.S. Senator also overwhelmingly supports strong state and federal policies to protect children from harmful chemicals in household products. These results match previous opinion research data from February 2011, showing that the super-majority support for replacing bisphenol A (BPA) and other toxic chemicals with safer alternatives is both powerful and persistent.

Polling results include:

Strong support for removing dangerous chemicals from everyday products

  • 88 percent of Mainers believe it is very important for the state and federal governments to require manufacturers to replace the most dangerous chemicals used in consumer products with safer ones

Strong support for eliminating BPA in baby and toddler food packaging

  • 87 percent of Mainers approve of a proposal to replace the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A with safer alternatives in packaging for infant formula, baby food, and toddler food.

Strong support for overhauling the national chemical safety system

  • 79 percent of Mainers support federal legislation that would require chemical manufacturers to show that their chemicals are safe before they enter the market, and allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit chemicals that cause harm and phase out the most dangerous.
  • Of Mainers who said they planned to vote for Angus King, 91 percent support legislation to reform the federal system (with 59 percent strongly supportive).

The current federal law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is widely viewed as outdated and ineffective at protecting public health and ensuring chemicals used in everyday products are adequately tested for safety.  Senator Collins and Senator Snowe have both acknowledged that the current law is inadequate.

In July of this year the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed S.847, the Safe Chemicals Act, marking the first time in over three decades that Congress voted on any proposal to reform TSCA.  Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the next Congress and advocates are hoping to see Senator-elect Senator King take an active role in its passage.

In Maine, the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) is currently considering a citizen-initiated rule under Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Act that would phase out the use of BPA in infant formula, baby food, and toddler food in favor of safer alternatives.  Studies show that one of the most common paths of exposure to BPA is through food and that BPA exposure could be reduced by two thirds if food packaging were BPA-free.  The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine is calling on the BEP to pass the rule by December 31st so that it can be sent to the Maine Legislature in January.

“This poll makes clear that Mainers overwhelmingly support getting toxic chemicals out of our children’s food, furniture, and clothes,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor. “The Board of Environmental Protection should issue a rule before the end of the year to eliminate BPA from children’s food packaging. It’s clearly time for action.”

Support for government action to require safer chemicals crosses all demographic groups. Eighty-five percent of men and 89 percent of women support removing BPA from children’s food packaging, along with at least 86 percent of every age group and 85 percent of the 2nd Congressional District.

Support for government action to phase out harmful chemicals is extremely strong even among the most conservative voters. Seventy-seven percent of voters who approve of Governor LePage’s performance also say that it’s important for the state and federal governments to identify the most dangerous chemicals used in making consumer products and require manufacturers to replace them with safer ones. Eighty percent of Republican voters, 71 percent of “very conservative” voters, and even 72 percent of Tea Party supporters also agreed.

“These poll results show Maine people think it’s good common sense to keep unsafe chemicals out of the products our families use, but while it’s common sense, it hasn’t been common practice. We need our elected officials to lead the way on these chemical policies that Mainers so clearly support,” said Amanda Sears, Associate Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a Maine based public health organization.