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BPA legislation in California: The time has come

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

As you likely know, the Minnesota legislature recently passed a statewide prohibition of bisphenol-A (commonly known as BPA) in baby bottles, sippy cups and other food containers for children 3 and under. Suffolk County, New York, has also banned BPA in such items, and the Chicago city council voted just last week to ban the sale of any baby bottle or sippy cup containing the chemical.

Next stop? California. This is all great news and incredibly heartening for those of us who have long been working to pass similar policies elsewhere. Like California.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is working hard to pass the Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act (SB 797) in California, which would virtually eliminate BPA from food and beverage containers for children under 3 years old.

What is BPA? BPA is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Bisphenol A (BPA) was discovered to be a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. Today it is widely used in certain kinds of plastics and epoxy resins, including those commonly found in baby bottles and used to line metal infant formula cans.

Why is it in our bodies? Research by the Centers for Disease Control has found that 93% of Americans tested have BPA in their bodies, and children have higher levels than adults. According to the National Institutes of Health, the main way people are exposed to BPA is from the chemical leaching from containers into food and drink. Studies by the Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, and others have documented that BPA leaches into canned infant formula and out of polycarbonate baby bottles. No BPA is found in powdered formula; nor is it a background contaminant that would unintentionally contaminate bottles, cups, cans, or jars.

What's the problem with BPA in our bodies? BPA is a known hormone disruptor, and studies have firmly established that infants and children are at the greatest risk of harm. The National Institutes of Health are concerned that BPA exposure in infants may lead to problems with brain development and behavior, early puberty, breast cancer and prostate cancer. New research has also suggested that BPA may interfere with metabolism and lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes in people. Other recent research has found that low levels of BPA reduces the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.

What would the CA Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act do? Millions of babies and toddlers in California are being exposed daily to the harmful toxin BPA. This hormone-disrupting chemical can be found in baby bottles, food and beverage containers and formula containers and is leaching into their food and drink. While some manufacturers have already removed this substance from their products, it is still found in a wide variety of products. SB 797 will help protect children from this dangerous chemical by banning the use of BPA in children's feeding containers.

SB 797 would limit the amount of BPA allowed to leach from baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula cans and baby food jars. Specifically, the bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of these products designed for children 3 and younger that contains more than 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) of BPA.

What can you do to help pass this bill? If you live in California ask your state senator today to vote "YES!" on this important legislation. And if don't live in California but have friends and families who do, tell 'em about it! We have a Cause on Facebook for our grassroots campaign to pass the bill - please join!

We want the California state senators to know that minimizing BPA exposures for young children is very important to their constitutents.

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