Gov. Paul LePage has formally withdrawn a proposal to add the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde to the priority chemicals list under the state law protecting children from toxic chemicals.

 As part of the Kids Safe Products Act, the rule would have required manufacturers to disclose which children’s products contain formaldehyde, a widely used toxic chemical known to cause leukemia and other cancers in humans.

 “Formaldehyde is cancer causing chemical,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, who has three young children. “Maine families have right to know if this dangerous chemical is in their children’s products. I know I join the many parents in this state who will be dismayed by this harmful choice.”

 Formaldehyde has been found in common household products, including crib sheets and children’s clothing.  

 Citing the need to wait for a federal government review,  LePage’s action followed the lobbying pleas of major formaldehyde producers, including Koch Industries, the industrial conglomerate owned by David and Charles Koch. Koch Industries is a co-founder and major funder of the Formaldehyde Panel of the chemical industry lobby, American Chemistry Council (ACC).  In January 2014, the ACC Formaldehyde Panel also testified in opposition to Maine’s proposed listing of formaldehyde as a Priority Chemical during a hearing on the proposal.

 “Maine families deserve to know if toxic chemicals are in the products their kids use,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan, a father of two young children. “How can the governor justify exposing children to the carcinogen formaldehyde? In what world do we choose the bottom line of chemical companies over the health of Maine’s children?  It seems to be the world the governor would have us live in, given his track record of failing to protect kids from BPA and his latest move.”

Governor LePage has prioritized the chemical industry over Maine kids. He vetoed legislation put forward last year by former Senator Seth Goodall of Richmond that would require billion-dollar food companies to disclose which canned foods contained BPA; his veto was sustained.  Governor LePage also opposed a rule initiated by a citizen petition in 2012 to eliminate BPA from baby food packaging—the rule became law without his signature

 In 2011, he tried and failed to repeal the ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, infamously saying the worst that could happen is that women would grow “little beards.”

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