Kalie Hess

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



Environmental injustice has typically been an infringement of the rights of poor and minority communities from a “Not in my Backyard” mindset with regards to harmful chemicals. However, the pervasiveness of many chemicals, including bisphenol A has narrowed the exposure gap so that everyone, regardless of class or race, is affected by these chemicals. The United States has a history of being a responsive rather than a proactive agent regarding chemical regulation, but the environmental and health stakes are now too high to continue with this approach. The movement in Maine to reduce exposure to bisphenol A can be seen as a continuation of organizing for environmental justice because the movement incorporates classic organizing techniques and challenges what we perceive as the “environment” that should be regulated by governmental action. The movement in Maine and the subsequent policy put in place to regulate the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A can be used as a model to demonstrate the route that the new tributary of the environmental justice movement can take. The health effects of bisphenol A and similar chemicals combined with their omnipresence demonstrate the need to protect American consumers from the persistent toxic chemicals that are in our lives because of pressure from industry, gaps in regulatory policy, and governmental inaction.

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