SAN FRANCISCO – Today the California state Senate passed the Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act (SB 797), which would ban bisphenol A, or BPA, from food and drink containers designed for children ages three and younger. BPA, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to breast cancer and other serious health problems, is used in some plastic baby bottles and sippy cups, as well as in the lining of infant formula cans. The bill will now be considered by and voted on in the Assembly.
The vote follows media reports of notes leaked from a May 28 meeting of BPA industry representatives, during which these representatives discussed plans to thwart the California legislation by “befriending people that are able to manipulate the legislative process.”
The bill’s advocates see the Senate vote as not only a vote for kids’ safety, but also a vote against the BPA industry’s tactics. “Senators got an ear-full from BPA industry lobbyists, but ultimately decided that the science against BPA is just too strong, and that kids had to come before lobbyists,” said Gretchen Lee Salter, policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund.
“Millions of babies and toddlers are exposed to the toxic hormone disruptor BPA on a daily basis through their baby bottles, formula and baby food,” said Renee Sharp, director of Environmental Working Group’s California office. “If the Pavley bill becomes law, this will finally end.”
The bill, introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley, is a response to mounting scientific evidence that exposure to even extremely low levels of BPA can impact health. More than 200 scientific studies show that BPA exposure, particularly during early infancy, is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects in later life. In addition to breast cancer, BPA has been linked to prostate cancer, birth defects, infertility in men, early puberty in girls, diabetes and obesity. A main route of human exposure is through the leaching of BPA from food and beverage containers. Once in food, BPA moves quickly into the body. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable because their bodies are still developing.
The compelling science has led to a flurry of legislative activity. In April, Minnesota became the first state to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, and in May, the Connecticut legislature passed a similar ban, which now awaits the governor’s signature. Congress and 22 states and municipalities are also considering legislation to regulate the chemical.
There has been significant action in the marketplace as well. In March, Sunoco became the first chemical manufacturer to acknowledge health concerns when it announced it will sell BPA only to companies that guarantee the chemical will not be used to make children’s food and water containers. Leading formula companies are beginning to use packaging that doesn’t contain BPA, six baby bottle manufacturers have pledged to stop using the chemical, and retailers from Toys R Us to Kmart have announced they are phasing out BPA-containing baby bottles.