I recently learned that the Legislature will soon decide whether to include a bill in its 2014 agenda that is important to the health of children. L.R. 2488 is titled “An Act to Protect the Health of Men, Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals in Products.” It would require large manufacturers to report to consumers if children’s products made or sold in Maine contain harmful chemicals called phthalates. The bill was introduced by my state representative, Gay Grant, D-Gardiner.

Phthalates can cause birth defects and harm a child’s growth and development, as well as cause asthma and other disorders. Phthalates are commonly used in plastic products such as lunch boxes, rain jackets or in packaging.

The bill would provide people with the information they need to decide for themselves if a product poses a risk to their child or, for that matter, any child.

Last year, I was pleased when a law was enacted in Maine to ban bisphenol-A from packaging for baby food and infant formula. BPA is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women. I was disappointed, however, when the governor vetoed a different bill to require food companies to report the presence of toxic chemicals, including BPA, in their products or packaging.

As a grandmother, I am very concerned about these dangerous chemicals. I believe we should ban them from children’s products outright. At the very least, however, I want my government to make sure I am aware when a product contains chemicals that may hurt my grandchildren.

I hope that the leaders of our elected representatives in Augusta decide to allow debate over Grant’s important bill. Protecting Maine’s kids from dangerous chemicals is a discussion worth having today.

Diane PotterGardiner

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