With moms, including the former Speaker of Maine's House, Hannah Pingree, and candidate for Maine State Senate Rebecca Cornell du Houx, protesting the use of hazardous chemicals in baby products.
Moms to Governor LePage: You Can’t “Duck” Toxic Track Record
By Morgan Rogers
Maine moms and health advocates gathered in Broadway Park to protest Governor LePage’s track record of consistently siding with out-of-state chemical corporations against science-based policies to protect pregnant women and children from dangerous chemicals in everyday products. These same chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other serious harm to human health.
“I’m outraged that Governor LePage has allowed Maine kids to be exposed to hundreds of toxic chemicals every day,” said Regina Creeley, mother from Hudson. “As both mom and special education teacher, I want leaders who have Maine kids’ safety and best interests at heart – not the chemical industry’s profits.”
Protesters convened under a giant, 25 ft. inflatable rubber duck, which has become the symbol for chemical safety reform. This iconic baby bath toy once contained toxic lead and hormone-disrupting chemicals until banned by narrowly focused state and federal laws in 2008. But the chemical ingredients of the vast majority of other consumer products have never been reviewed for safety by any government agency. Our chemical safety system remains badly broken.
Women and children also donned little beards to protest the Governor’s infamous quip from 2011 in which said that the worst effects of the toxic chemical BPA were that some women may grow “little beards.” Scientific evidence has shown that BPA acts like the hormone estrogen, causing learning disabilities and behavior problems, and increasing the chance that babies will develop prostate and breast cancer later in life.
“Maine needs a leader who will protect kids and families from toxic chemicals, not make jokes, deny the science and block progress while taking campaign cash from the chemical industry – like Governor LePage has done,” said Emma Halas-O’Connor, Advocacy Manager of Prevent Harm. “That’s why we’re out here today with our “little beards” – to make sure that our next Governor will put Maine kids ahead of the chemical industry, not the other way around.”
Maine has long been a national leader in protecting children’s health from toxic chemicals. In 2008, the Maine Legislature passed the Kid-Safe Products Act by an overwhelming bipartisan margin. This landmark state chemical safety law aims to reduce exposure of children and pregnant women to priority chemicals of high concern by replacing them with safer alternatives in consumer products.
The Baldacci Administration used the Kid-Safe Products Act to propose a ban on BPA in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups in 2010, which Governor LePage proposed to repeal in 2011. In response to strong outrage from parents and physicians, the Governor made his now-infamous “little beards” comment. The Legislature then handed LePage his first political defeat, approving the final BPA ban by a combined vote of 180 to 3.
Scientific evidence shows that toxic chemicals can lead to costly and harmful health impacts, such as cancer, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, diabetes, and obesity. These same chemicals are often found in common consumer products such as children’s toys, food packaging, household cleaners, furniture, and building materials. While people of all ages are at risk, studies shows that children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of toxic chemicals, due to their small size and rapid brain and body development.
Governor LePage has consistently undermined and attempted to roll back Maine’s chemical safety protections. Since taking office, he:
- Tried to repeal the ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups (2011);
- Attempted to gut the Kid-Safe Products Act at the request of the chemical industry (LD 1129, 2011);
- Appointed a former chemical industry lobbyist as Environmental Commissioner (2011);
- Opposed a rule to eliminate BPA from baby food packaging (2013);
- Vetoed a bill to require billion-dollar food companies to disclose which canned foods contained BPA (LD 1181, 2013);
- Scrapped a rule on formaldehyde in children’s products, after lobbying by Koch Industries, which produces the cancer-causing chemical (2014); and
- Failed to adopt a rule to require product manufacturers to disclose their use of phthalates, which are linked to reproductive harm in boys (2014).
Confirming his allegiance, the Governor has pocketed at least $2,500 in political contributions from the chemical industry for his re-election bid. (Search “American Chemistry Council” contributions on Maine Ethics Commission website).
“Governor LePage has been in office for most of my daughter’s life,” said Autumn Allen, mother from Hermon. “During that time, she has lived in a state with a Governor who doesn’t value protecting her health from toxic chemicals, and who has sided with the chemical industry time and time again over Maine families. That’s not the Governor that my daughter deserves – or that any of Maine’s children deserve. We can, and must, do better.”
“For the last four years, Governor LePage has consistently sided with the chemical industry, instead of looking out for Maine families,” said Paige Holmes, mother from Bangor. “LePage has had plenty of second chances – let’s not give him another on November 4th.”
Prevent Harm plans to spend the next weeks prior to the election engaging in grassroots organizing, knocking on doors throughout the state, and reminding voters about Governor LePage’s track record on toxic chemicals. Today's press conference is the third in a series, following similarly themed events in Portland and Augusta earlier this month.