California BPA Bill Moves Forward

Although industry believes that scientists and consumer advocates are exaggerating the adverse effects of the plastic-hardening, estrogenic chemical <"">bisphenol A (BPA), another bill banning its use has moved forward, this time in California. The LA Times reported that the proposal, which narrowly passed the state Senate, would ban BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups, and food containers.

Despite industry’s arguments that BPA is safe at current dosages, the ubiquitous chemical—a plastic additive in use since the 1950s—has been linked to an increased risk of brain, reproductive, and immune system diseases and disorders; problems with liver function testing; and interruptions in chemotherapy treatment. BPA is also associated with serious health problems based on over 200 studies which found BPA to have negative effects at “very low doses,” lower than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) current safety standards. Studies also revealed BPA stays in the body longer than previously believed.

According to an earlier LA Times piece, a study confirmed what experts have long suspected, containers made with BPA leach the chemical into the liquids being held, even when not heated. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, BPA exposure has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans.

BPA can be found virtually everywhere and is present in detectable levels in just about every human body. The highest levels are seen, noted the Chicago Tribune previously, in the youngest Americans. A significant concern since the toxin leaches in increased doses when containers made with BPA are heated, as is often the case with baby bottles.

The Califorina bill’s next step is in the state Assembly, where it is expected to be hotly fought by those in industry, specifically makers of BPA-containing baby products, said the LA Times.

We wrote earlier this week that manufacturers in whose best interest it is to continue to use the dangerous toxin are working to find ways in which to stem government bans and allow the chemical in the items they produce. BPA is used, for example, in the linings of cans and lids, and companies such as Coca-Cola are among those trying to figure out ways to block possible bans, reported the Washington Post previously.

Meanwhile, the FDA continues to maintain BPA is safe despite that it relied solely on two industry-funded studies for its draft review, something for which the agency has long been criticized. And, now, according to the LA Times, California is being looked at by industry to initiate a public relations campaign geared at reversing negative perceptions of the toxin. The California proposal won with a slight majority of 21-16.

Despite industry’s attempts to fight BPA bans, there does seem to be a movement to phase out the chemical. For instance, earlier this year, six baby-bottle makers—Playtex, Avent, Disney First Years, Dr. Brown, Evenflo, and Gerber—announced that they will not be using BPA in their baby bottle products and gas and chemical giant, Sunoco, recently announced to its investors that it will no longer sell BPA to companies for use in food and water containers for children under the age of three.

Canada was the first country to announce plans to ban BPA and, this year, New York’s Suffolk County, Massachusetts health officials, Chicago, and Minnesota are all in various stages of talks or implementations of BPA bans or warnings in an array of products. Key members in the U.S. House and Senate introduced legislation for a federal ban on BPA in all food and beverage containers and 24 states have bills in the works to restrict the toxin.

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