Maine small businesses call on Sen. Snowe and Collins to fix chemical law

New report highlights business concerns about dangerous chemicals

By Ramona du Houx - October 7th, 2011 · 

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Bangor, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

A coalition of nearly 2,500 small businesses from Maine held a press conference at a local retail store on Thursday and issued an urgent call for Senators Snowe and Collins to support legislation that would overhaul the nation’s chemical safety laws and help businesses and their customers get accurate and timely information about dangerous chemicals used in consumer products.

“No business wants toxic chemicals in the products or packaging on our shelves,” stated Nate Libby, Executive Director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, “We don’t want to use them, we don’t want to sell them, and we don’t want our customers to be exposed to them. That’s why Maine businesses are counting on Senators Snowe and Collins to support the Safe Chemicals Act.”

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 would modernize and strengthen the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, a 35-year-old law that opponents say is outdated and ineffective at protecting public health and giving consumers and businesses good information about chemicals used in everyday products.

Toxics Action Center joined the Maine Small Business Coalition and released their new report, Safer Chemicals, Better for Business: What Maine Businesses Need from Congress to Improve Market Transparency and Product Safety. The report is based on a survey of 156 Maine businesses and shows high levels of concern about product liability and the lack of health and safety information.

“Maine businesses overwhelmingly support stronger, safer chemicals policies and the phase out of dangerous chemicals when safer alternatives are available,” said Tracie Konopinski, the author of the report. “Of the businesses surveyed, 88% want policies that ensure full health and safety testing of all chemicals in commerce. And 96% support the phase-out of the most dangerous chemicals when safer alternatives are available.”

The full report can be found at www.toxicsaction.org . Konopinski added, “Current federal law leaves us all in the dark about product safety. This report clearly shows that Maine businesses want Senators Snowe and Collins to do something about it.”

“Our federal chemical safety system is broken. And because the vast majority of chemicals in everyday products remain untested, we can’t shop our way out of this problem,” said Betsy Lundy, owner of Central Street Farmhouse. “We need action in Washington. Every family deserves a home free of toxic chemicals, just as every business deserves the right to know that the products and packaging on our store shelves are safe.”

Immediately following the event, the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine partners delivered the Toxics Action Center report and 100 letters from Maine businesses to the Bangor offices of Senators Snowe and Collins. The letters urge the Senators to take immediate action and support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.

“Maine businesses know we don’t have to choose between good health and good business. They go hand-in-hand. Preventing disease is a smart investment because healthy kids do better in school, healthy workers are more productive, and lower health costs are good for every business and family in Maine. We all benefit by getting toxic chemicals off the store shelves and out of our bodies,” concluded Libby