Washington and Wisconsin are one step closer to becoming the third and fourth U.S. states to ban the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles and food and drink containers.
The Wisconsin Senate on Jan. 26 unanimously approved S271, which would ban the use of BPA in bottles and cups intended for children ages 5 and younger. The state Assembly Consumer Protection Committee the same day unanimously approved a similar measure, H405.
A day earlier, the Washington House, by a vote of 95-1, approved H1180, which would ban the use of BPA in food and drink containers intended for children ages 3 and younger. The BPA ban in Washington also would apply to sports water bottles. The Washington ban would be effective July 1, 2011, and excludes metal cans, which often are lined with epoxy resin.
BPA is used to make polycarbonate and epoxy resins. The six manufacturers of baby bottles last year agreed to stop selling PC bottles in the United States. Epoxy, however, is still used in the lining of most canned foods and beverages, including infant formula.
The two new proposed bans, which are expected to be approved and signed into law, come less than two weeks after the Food and Drug Administration reversed its long-held stance that BPA is safe for food-contact uses. Regulators say they are particularly concerned about BPA's effect on the development of fetuses, infants and young children.
BPA has not been proven to harm either children or adults, said Marc Smolonsky, associate deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in a Jan. 15 conference call. But we now have new research findings about BPA that shows subtle effects of low doses of BPA in laboratory animals, and this has raised new concerns. Given that children in the early stages of development are exposed to BPA, the data and the new research deserves a closer look.
Despite its change in stance, FDA did not ban BPA or require manufacturers to label products that contain BPA, saying that there is not enough information to require that. An additional difficulty in regulating BPA is that it is currently classified as a food additive and not subject to the stricter regulations governing the use of chemicals in food contact applications.
Joshua Sharpstein, FDA's principal deputy commissioner, said FDA and HHS would conduct target studies of BPA over the next two years to determine whether any action is necessary to protect public health.
In a statement, the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va., said it disagrees with the FDA recommendations.
Plastics made with BPA contribute safety and convenience to our daily lives because of their durability, clarity and shatter resistance, ACC said. Can liners and food-storage containers made with BPA are essential components to helping protect the safety of packaged foods. ACC remains committed to consumer safety, and will continue to review new scientific studies concerning the safety of BPA.
A number of laboratory studies have linked BPA a synthetic estrogen used in plastics production to birth defects, low birth weight, cancer, early puberty and other health problems in rats. However, 11 safety agencies around the world have said BPA is safe for food-contact uses.
The European Union has established a safe level of BPA exposure that is 1,000 times higher than the typical amount of BPA in the general population, based on biomonitoring data from the Centers for Disease Control.
Minnesota, Connecticut, the city of Chicago and Suffolk County in New York have enacted bans on BPA. The Suffolk County ban went into effect in July and the Minnesota ban went into effect Jan. 1. The Chicago ban was to go into effect Jan. 31, and the Connecticut ban will go into effect Oct. 1, 2011. Connecticut's ban also applies to infant formula cans and reusable food/beverage containers.
More than 6 billion pounds of BPA were manufactured in the U.S. in 2009.
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