BPA has been linked to hormonal imbalances and health issues in children and women; studies suggest that BPA-exposure is connected to breast cancer as well as early puberty. In June, US Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, introduced the “BPA in Food Packaging Right to Know Act of 2013,” which would require labeling all consumer food packaging that contains BPA and direct the US Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a safety study of BPA. Maine’s independent senator, Angus King, co-sponsored the bill.
Last month, after it passed unanimously through the House and Senate, Republican Governor Paul LePage vetoed the “Healthy Kids Bill,” which would have required food companies with gross annual sales of more than $1 billion to report whether they use potentially toxic chemicals, such as BPA, in their products and packaging. Maine does designate BPA as a “priority chemical” (along with just one other toxin primarily used in plastic tubing), and has already prohibited the sale of reusable food containers, infant-formula packaging, and baby-food packaging that contain BPA.
Williams sees actions like those of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine as a bright spot amidst all her findings, and hopes policymakers soon catch up with public health advocates.
“I’m optimistic that the science is getting so much better in terms of understanding how endocrine disruptors work, and I can only hope that the regulatory system will catch up soon,” Williams says, speaking of hormone-altering chemicals such as BPA. “I’m also inspired that there seems to be growing public awareness of the field of environmental health and hopefully that will lead to more resources, more research dollars, and more respect for the study of breasts, among other aspects of our health.”
Maine Women’s Lobby fundraiser with Florence Williams | Thursday, August 15 @ 7 pm | Strand Theatre, 345 Main St, Rockland | $25 general admission; $50 includes pre-show reception and preferred seating | 207.633.0851 or mainewomenevent.bpt.me