No matter how you spin it, it’s not a good thing that Maine’s pulp and paper mills are spewing more toxic chemicals into our air, water and land.

The Feb. 25 article, “Some Label Toxin Spike as Positive” missed the mark on the federal government’s Toxic Release Inventory and what it means for Maine.

Maine people and our elected leaders should remember that increased production does not need to result in increased pollution, and we don’t have to accept the threats to our health and environment that the 2011 inventory numbers reveal.

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection implies that the significant increase in toxic pollution in Maine is safe, because we are exposed to other sources of toxic chemicals, too. DEP neglected to note that for toxic chemicals, as for most other things, two wrongs do not make a right.

DEP’s logic ignores the cumulative effect of pollution sources on our environment and health. More pollution puts Mainers at a higher risk of all kinds of illness, including respiratory damage, cancer, learning disabilities and reproductive harm.

State and federal laws do not do enough to limit the release of toxic chemicals into the environment and, soon afterwards, our bodies. We need to address these laws’ weaknesses, which limit agencies’ ability to regulate toxic pollution. We need laws that prevent companies from accruing private profit while causing public damage to our health and environment through the release of dangerous chemicals.

Passage of the federal Safe Chemicals Act would ask that the industries that produce, use or release chemicals prove that these chemicals are safe. That would be a good start. For more information, see: /site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage &id=361

Abby King, policy advocate

Natural Resources Council of Maine