Environmental and public health groups are urging lawmakers to support a bill that they say would strengthen Maine’s law aimed at reducing children’s exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.

Enacted in 2008, the Kid-Safe Products Act requires the state to identify chemicals that could cause health concerns. The act also gives state regulators a vehicle for either banning chemicals from products sold in Maine or requiring manufacturers to disclose when those chemicals are used in products.

Maine is one of only three states with a system regulating chemicals used in children’s products. But members of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, a coalition of groups, have criticized the DEP for requiring disclosure only for products marketed to children under age 12 and not those marketed to pregnant women.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, would require the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to include products marketed to pregnant women in future rules targeting priority chemicals as well as rules under development for phthalates, a type of plastics softener. The bill would require the DEP to provide scientific justifications for excluding certain product categories from regulations.

“We can do better for Maine children and for Maine families,” Gideon said at a State House press conference Wednesday.

To date, the DEP has designated five chemicals – bisphenol-A or BPA, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and nonylphenol/nonylphenol ethoxylates – as “priority” chemicals that are either banned from certain children’s products or must be reported when they are used in products.

The department has also recommended regulating phthalates, a type of plastics softener also found in shampoos and personal care products.

Phthalates have come under heavy scrutiny in recent years because the chemicals have been linked to other health concerns.

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