To comply with a July 1st deadline set by the Maine Legislature, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection recently published a list of 49 chemicals found in common consumer products that pose the greatest risk to our health…and children’s health, in particular. The Legislature required the DEP to adopt a list of up to 70 chemicals as part of the Kid Safe Products Act, yet only 49 chemicals met the DEP criteria and made the final list. However, anyone can petition the department to add a chemical to the list, so more may be added in the future.
Of the chemicals listed, a dozen have been shown to cause cancer in humans (e.g. formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, and cadmium). Hormone-disrupting phthalates (used to soften vinyl plastic) and parabens (preservatives in shampoos and lotions) also made the list, along with four chemicals used inflame retardants, three chemicals found in sunscreen, perfluorinated chemicals found in fabric treatments and siloxanes found in personal care products. According to Portland nonprofit the Environmental Health Strategy Center, many of the chemicals on the list can harm children’s development and cause learning disabilities, reproductive problems, cancer and other diseases that present later in life.