As you may recall, the State of Maine passed legislation earlier this year that gave the state the authority to broadly identify and investigate “chemicals of high concern” in consumer products, particularly those that may reach children. The bill, signed into law in April, made Maine the first state in this country to have such authority. Hopefully, it will serve as a model for other states trying to fill a regulatory void left by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. It’s become quite obvious that the EPA isn’t able – or willing – to do what’s necessary in this area of concern.
Just five chemicals out of 82,000 known to be hazardous to human health, for instance, have been banned by the EPA since 1976, the most recent being asbestos in 1989. Maine’s law coincides with mounting concerns in the United States over chemicals found in everyday products, from cars to clothes, and follows similar European Union laws. The EU in 1999 banned phthalates — chemicals used to make plastic more flexible — and last year implemented a law known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) that requires businesses to prove substances in everyday products are safe and submit data about them. Maine’s bill follows closely the EU approach, requiring makers of toxic chemicals to notify state authorities of the quantity and purpose of the chemicals and work to develop safer alternatives.
Since the EPA isn’t doing its job, many experts believe Maine’s law will lead to tougher measures nationwide. Under the law, Maine will test chemicals and issue a “certificate of non-compliance” to manufacturers stating their chemicals do not meet state laws. The state can notify retailers that a product contains toxic chemicals and legislation can be approved to ban its sale. Environmentalists in Maine say there is growing evidence that harmful toxic chemicals are working their way into the state’s ecosystem. A recent study, conducted at the BioDiversity Research Institute in Gorham, Maine, found some extremely disturbing evidence that confirmed the fears.
Other U.S. states have also begun to act on chemicals in consumer products. The state of Washington signed into law on April 1st legislation that places restrictions on the manufacture of children’s products containing lead, cadmium and phthalates. In February, the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill to identify dangerous chemicals in household goods, but the legislation has yet to be passed into law. In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban toxic flame retardants, and California banned toys containing phthalates. Lawmakers in Maryland, Nebraska and Hawaii have been considering bills similar to Maine’s legislation. Until the federal government does its job on a national scale, the states will have to take action to protect their citizens.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.