On May 24, 2007, the Maine Senate voted 29-5 (with one abstention) to support LD 1658, a bill that would phase out the toxic flame retardant known as “deca,” in favor of safer alternatives. The bill, An Act to Protect Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals Released into the Home, sponsored by Representative Hannah Pingree (D-North Haven), was unanimously approved by the Maine House on May 16. The bill bans the use of the toxic flame retardant deca in mattresses and furniture on January 1, 2008 and phases out its use in televisions and other plastic-cased electronics by January 1, 2010.
“With this bi-partisan vote to ban deca, Maine’s Legislature is poised to protect the health of Maine families and our environment from this pervasive toxic chemical,” said Matt Prindiville, Toxics Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We are pleased that the Legislature chose to trust Maine’s firefighters, health experts, and scientists, over the chemical industry’s misleading ad campaign.”
The chemical industry mounted an all-out campaign, placing more than 27 full page color print advertisements and running round-the-clock television and radio ads as well.
At public hearings and work sessions, the only opposition to the bill came from the chemical industry that wants to keep making and selling deca despite growing worldwide concern about the threat it poses to the health of children and wildlife. The bill is supported by over 50 Maine organizations, including fire safety, environmental, public health and children’s groups.
“Today the Maine Legislature affirmed this chemical, which is building up in the bodies of our families, doesn’t belong in the products sold in Maine,” said Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center. “The health of Maine kids won out today over chemical industry scare tactics and hype.”
Concern over the use of deca has grown in recent years due to research indicating that it is accumulating in the bodies of people and wildlife. Laboratory studies have demonstrated that exposure to deca can impair learning and development, and that children are the most vulnerable to its toxic effects.