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Maine Antifreeze Safety Law Takes Effect

Will require antifreeze to contain bittering agent that will save children, pets and wildlife

AUGUSTA, Maine — Starting today all antifreeze and engine coolant sold in Maine will contain a bittering agent so that children, pets and wildlife are not poisoned by the sweet-tasting liquid. The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of its more than 73,000 supporters in Maine, celebrates this measure which will reduce the number of childhood poisonings and save tens of thousands of animals each year. The legislature passed a bill requiring the addition of the bittering agent four years ago, but the law included a trigger provision so that three states in the Northeast would need to pass similar legislation for Maine’s law to take effect. The three Northeastern states passing similar laws since 2007 are Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont.

“Now that the Maine law has finally gone into effect, it will help reduce the number of child poisonings and save the lives of thousands of animals each year,” said Katie Lisnik, Maine state director for The HSUS. “We are very grateful to the Maine State Legislature for passing this bill years ago, and to the other Northeast states that passed their own bills allowing Maine’s law to take effect.”

An estimated 1,400 children and 10,000 animals are poisoned each year after ingesting ethylene glycol, a highly toxic chemical used to make antifreeze and coolant for automobiles. Ethylene glycol's sweet smell and taste makes the deadly substance attractive to animals and children. The law requires manufacturers to add denatonium benzoate, the bitterest known chemical, which renders the product unpalatable, to antifreeze and coolant sold in the state. It will cost manufacturers an estimated additional two to three cents per gallon to add the bittering agent.

With the passage of Massachusetts’s bill in 2010, the delayed implementation trigger kicked in causing the Maine law take effect a year later- today, July 19, 2011.  Maine is one of 17 states where The HSUS and Humane Society Legislative Fund have worked to pass similar legislation, the others are: Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- On the web at humanesociety.org.