Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has dismissed the dangers of the chemical bisphenol-A, the effects of which are being debated in the state’s legislature this session, saying that as far as he can tell, the worst side effect is that “some women may have little beards.”
BPA is a common additive to plastics, but several recent scientific studies have found that it may have adverse effects when young children are exposed to it. According to one January 2010 study by the FDA, there was some evidence that BPA had a concerning effect on the “brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.” In October 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA toxic. The EU has banned it in plastic baby bottles.
But LePage is apparently not so concerned. Kevin Miller of the Bangor Daily News reports LePage as saying: “Quite frankly, the science that I’m looking at says there is no [problem]. There hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem.”
He added: “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”
Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Maine advocacy group the Environmental Health Strategy Center, said of LePage’s comments: “It displays shocking ignorance for the science and a callous disregard for children’s health.”
LePage has drawn media attention in the past with brash comments, once declaring that the NAACP can “kiss my butt,” and saying during his campaign for governor that if he were elected, he would tell President Obama to “go to hell.”