California Delays BPA Vote

A bill banning the use of <"">bisphenol A—BPA—that narrowly passed in the state Senate, has been put off in the California Assembly. The LA Times reported that the proposal to ban BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups, and food containers did not meet the required 41 votes, twice. The proposal did receive a majority vote of 35-31, but that just simply wasn’t enough for passage and is coming up for another vote, today, said the LA Times.

It seems that between intense lobbying and hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, industry and public health advocates, among others, were involved in what were described as “emotional debates,” reported the LA Times. Under the recent Bush administration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was negligent in its action regarding BPA, arguing that current levels were safe, said the LA Times. Congress later accused the FDA of being influenced by industry, it added. The topic is so controversial and the evidence against BPA so compelling, that the FDA is taking another hard look at the chemical and is planning on announcing its findings at the end of November.

Limited BPA bans are in place in Schenectady County in upstate New York—a similar measure was recently passed by Albany County legislators and takes effect January 1—in Connecticut, Minnesota, Chicago, and New York’s Suffolk County. Wisconsin became the third state to introduce a bill to ban BPA-containing baby bottle and sippy cup sales for children and 24 states have bills in the works to restrict the chemical; Canada was the first country to announce plans to ban BPA, calling it a toxin.

BPA has been connected to a wide variety of adverse effects, including increased risks of brain, reproductive, cardiac, and immune system diseases and disorders; problems with liver function testing; interruptions in chemotherapy treatment; links with serious health problems. Studies have overwhelmingly found it to have negative effects at doses lower than the FDA’s current standards; retention in the body longer than was previously believed; leeching into liquids being held in containers regardless of the containers’ temperature; and longer lasting damage, which can be passed to future generations.

Industry believes that scientists and consumer advocates are exaggerating the adverse effects of the plastic-hardening, estrogenic chemical, continually citing two industry studies. But, points out the LA Times over 200 peer-reviewed studies have linked BPA to health problems.

Opponents claim the bill would adversely affect California’s 2008 green chemistry law that prioritizes substances requiring restriction or banning, said the LA Times. But, as Nancy Skinner (Democrat-Berkeley) said to the Assembly, “Babies as we all know, are very little, very helpless and very dependent … their body weights cannot tolerate toxins at the rates adults can,” quoted the LA Times.

Apparently, the original California bill, which was sponsored by Fran Pavley (Democrat-Agoura Hills), called for a total BPA ban, but was amended in the Assembly to allow California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control additional time to determine if the chemical should be regulated under the green chemistry law, reported the LA Times. “It gives them two years to act … they could decide it is completely safe and it would preempt this ban” said Bob Blumenfield (Democrat-Woodland Hills), quoted the paper.

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