Press Release: Maine Businesses Call for a Stronger Chemical Safety System

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2011

Contact:  Tracie Konopinski (207) 871-1810

Maine Small Businesses Call for a Stronger Chemical Safety System

New Report Highlights Business Concerns about Dangerous Chemicals

(BANGOR) A coalition of nearly 2,500 small businesses from Maine held a press conference at a local retail store on Thursday and issued an urgent call for Senators Snowe and Collins to support legislation that would overhaul the nation’s chemical safety laws and help businesses and their customers get accurate and timely information about dangerous chemicals used in consumer products.

“No business wants toxic chemicals in the products or packaging on our shelves,” stated Nate Libby, Executive Director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, “We don’t want to use them, we don’t want to sell them, and we don’t want our customers to be exposed to them.  That’s why Maine businesses are counting on Senators Snowe and Collins to support the Safe Chemicals Act.” 

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 would modernize and strengthen the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, a 35-year-old law that opponents say is outdated and ineffective at protecting public health and giving consumers and businesses good information about chemicals used in everyday products. 

Toxics Action Center joined the Maine Small Business Coalition and released their new report, “Safer Chemicals, Better for Business: What Maine Businesses Need from Congress to Improve Market Transparency and Product Safety”.  The report is based on a survey of 156 Maine businesses and shows high levels of concern about product liability and the lack of health and safety information.

Tracie Konopinski, the author of the report was on hand to discuss the new findings and stated, “Maine businesses overwhelmingly support stronger, safer chemicals policies and the phase out of dangerous chemicals when safer alternatives are available.  Of the businesses surveyed, 88% want policies that ensure full health and safety testing of all chemicals in commerce.  And 96% support the phase-out of the most dangerous chemicals when safer alternatives are available.”

The full report can be found at www.toxicsaction.org.  Konopinski added, “Current federal law leaves us all in the dark about product safety.  This report clearly shows that Maine businesses want Senators Snowe and Collins to do something about it.” 

Betsy Lundy, owner of Central Street Farmhouse where the event was held stated, “Our federal chemical safety system is broken.  And because the vast majority of chemicals in everyday products remain untested, we can’t shop our way out of this problem.  We need action in Washington.  Every family deserves a home free of toxic chemicals, just as every business deserves the right to know that the products and packaging on our store shelves are safe.”

Bettyann Sheats, owner of Finishing Touches, a remodeling business in Auburn remarked, “As a business owner, I have a responsibility to my customers and my family, and I take that responsibility very seriously.  We need Senator Snowe and Senator Collins to stand up to the chemical industry and the stranglehold they have on Congress.  We need our Senators to take the lead on the Safe Chemicals Act.  This common sense approach would help Maine businesses get good information; it would relieve the stress of long-term liability; it would make a plan for dealing with the worst-of-the-worst chemicals; and it would create incentives for innovation and green chemistry – something we’re pretty good at here in Maine.”

Immediately following the event, the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine partners delivered the Toxics Action Center report and 100 letters from Maine businesses to the Bangor offices of Senators Snowe and Collins.  The letters urge the Senators to take immediate action and support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.

Libby added, “Maine businesses know we don’t have to choose between good health and good business.  They go hand-in-hand.  Preventing disease is a smart investment because healthy kids do better in school, healthy workers are more productive, and lower health costs are good for every business and family in Maine.  We all benefit by getting toxic chemicals off the store shelves and out of our bodies.”

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The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine is a coalition of over 40 public health, environmental, and public interest organizations dedicated to protecting public health and the environment by replacing unnecessary dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives.  www.cleanandhealthyme.org