Six U.S. senators - including presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton - are sponsoring a bill that would ban plastic feedstock bisphenol A from products made for infants and children up to age 7.
``There have been enough warning signs about the dangers of this chemical that we cannot wait to act. The cost of not banning bisphenol A outweighs the cost of banning it,'' said one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in a news release.
Other sponsors - all Democrats - include John Kerry of Massachusetts, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
The bill also would call for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to study the health risks the chemical may pose to children and adults.
BPA has been the subject of intense media attention in recent weeks. Concerns about health risks have been raised by the U.S.-based National Toxicology Program and by Canada's Health Canada agency. As a result, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is removing items that may contain BPA from its Canadian stores, and water-bottle makers Nalgene Outdoor Products and CamelBak Products LLC are phasing out PC in favor of other resins such as copolyester.
BPA's primary use is as a polycarbonate feedstock, though it also is used in epoxy coatings for some metal cans. Industry sources estimate that baby bottles and water bottles account for less than 5 percent of North American PC use.
PC makers Sabic Innovative Plastics, Bayer MaterialScience and Dow Chemical Co. each have said they agree with the assessment of the American Chemistry Council, an Arlington, Va.-based trade group, that BPA is safe.
BPA use at current levels also has been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Nonetheless, the FDA earlier this month formed a task force to review current research and new information on BPA.
On the FDA Web site, officials said recent studies do not ``indicate a safety concern for BPA at current exposure levels,'' but added the agency ``will continue to consider new research and information as they become available.''
``At this time, FDA is not recommending that anyone discontinue using products that contain BPA while we continue our risk assessment process,'' the statement said. ``However, concerned consumers should know that several alternatives to polycarbonate baby bottles exist, including glass bottles.''
In an interview on The Checkout blog - a Web log produced by the Washington Post - FDA supervisory toxicologist Michelle Twaroski said FDA's ongoing review of BPA ``has involved more than the two studies sponsored by industry.''