Originally published September 12 2014
Maine to allow companies to put carcinogenic formaldehyde in products without informing public
by Julie Wilson staff writer
(NaturalNews) The U.S. government's failure to update the antiquated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 has forced states to spearhead their own policies regarding chemical safety laws.
Over the last decade, 18 states have passed more than 70 laws creating new chemical management programs intended to protect and educate the public regarding harmful chemicals, according to HealthyStuff.org.
In 2008, Maine passed The Kid's Safe Products Act, nearly unanimously, which requires manufacturers to disclose the use of harmful chemicals in consumer products and enables Maine to cooperate with other states and share information regarding toxic chemicals.
The legislation also allows officials with Maine's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to identify chemicals of high concern and restrict their use if the products pose a danger to children. The DEP can also restrict a product's use if a safe, effective alternative is available.
Maine's chemical safety law still flawed
While The Kid's Safe Products Act is a great start, it's still flawed. Only two priority chemicals have been named, and only one product category is in the process of being phased out, and that's the hormone mimicker bisphenol A (BPA), according to Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Failing to uphold their mission of protecting children from harmful chemicals, the DEP announced in May their decision to continue allowing manufacturers to sell children's products containing the known carcinogen formaldehyde.
The DEP followed through with their plan to list cadmium, arsenic and mercury as priority chemicals, but dropped formaldehyde, according to The Bangor Daily News.
Now the DEP says they need more information before taking action and plan to wait for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to release their review of formaldehyde's health risks, an assessment that's been ongoing since 1989 and is unlikely to be completed any time soon.
"The department believes that it is prudent to wait until this important piece of research is concluded," said Jessamine Logan, the DEP's spokeswoman.
Maine health officials fail to act, likely under pressure from the chemical industry
The department's allegation that there's a lack of information regarding the adverse health effects of formaldehyde is ludicrous. Critics consider the department's failure to act a blatant attempt to stonewall legislation that would restrict the toxic chemical, reluctance likely stemming from mounting pressure put on by the chemical industry, the Koch brothers in particular.
Koch Industries operates one of the largest formaldehyde-producing factories in the U.S. and is also the founding partner of the American Chemical Council's Formaldehyde Panel, which testified against the DEP's proposal to remove the chemical last January, according to reports.
Consumer safety group Prevent Harm says waiting for the EPA's assessment in unnecessary.
"The whole point of having a state-based chemical safety law is to no longer have to wait for federal leadership, which is lacking. The federal chemical safety system is badly broken," said Mike Belliveau, president of Prevent Harm.
Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor, a doctor and member of the legislative committee that oversees the DEP said numerous studies have linked formaldehyde to cancer, and the science is conclusive.
"How many studies do you need?" asked Gratwick. "The data seems to be pretty overwhelming. I want to see the governor's office take leadership in protecting the health of our children. ... If you won't take 25 years of data, there must be some reason."
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical used to produce a variety of household products. The chemical is also found in pressed-wood products and cigarette smoke. Inhaling the gas has been linked to nasopharyngeal cancer, leukemia and many other cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. Developing children are more sensitive to the chemical, posing an even more imminent threat for young kids.
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