Vermont has become the sixth state and fourth this year to pass a ban on the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy cups used by young children.
The Vermont bill, signed into law May 20 by Gov. Jim Douglas, is viewed by environmental groups as the second-most-stringent BPA ban after the Connecticut BPA ban.
Vermont bans the use of BPA in baby bottles, spill-proof cups and reusable food and beverage containers such as sports and thermos bottles, effective July 1, 2012. The ban does not apply to bottles and containers designed to be disposed of after a single use, or to water-cooler jugs.
The ban on metal cans that contain BPA goes into effect July 1, 2014.
This is a tremendous victory for Vermont consumers, said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. Under this new law, Vermonters will be better protected against the dangers of BPA exposure than the residents of 48 other states, and that's a good start.
The Vermont bill identifies glass, stainless-steel, and aluminum bottles as well as BPA-free plastic foil packets and powdered foods stored in cardboard boxes as potential alternatives.
Vermont, Connecticut and Wisconsin, Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, the city of Chicago and four counties in New York state Albany, Schenectady, Suffolk and Rockland have BPA bans.
The Washington ban goes into effect July 1, 2011; the Connecticut ban Oct. 1, 2011; and the Maryland ban Jan. 1, 2012. The Chicago ban and the other state bans are already in effect.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand also have bans on BPA in children's drinking containers. U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) is seeking to enact a federal ban on BPA in food and beverage containers as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act currently under consideration in Congress.
BPA is used to make polycarbonate products including baby bottles, sports bottles, reusable food and drink containers, bicycle helmets, CDs and DVDs. It is also an ingredient in the epoxy resins used to line metal cans.
A number of laboratory studies have linked BPA a synthetic estrogen to birth defects, low birth weight, cancer, early puberty and other health problems in rats. However, 11 safety agencies around the world have said that BPA is safe for use in food-contact applications.
A recently released study by the National Work Group for Safe Markets, a coalition of public health and environmental health groups that include VPIRG, found that consumers eating common canned foods may be exposed to levels of BPA that are equal to levels shown to cause health problems in laboratory animals.
The six major manufacturers of baby bottles last year agreed to stop selling PC bottles in the United States, and General Mills Inc. recently announced that it is removing BPA from its cans for organic tomatoes. Epoxy resins, however, are still used in the lining of most canned foods and beverages, including infant formula.
In late March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began a series of actions to address the potential effects of BPA and issued an action plan that concentrates on the chemical's environmental effects. EPA said it would look to add BPA to its list of chemicals of concern, which would mandate environmental testing for BPA.
In mid-January, the Food and Drug Administration reversed its long-held stance that BPA is safe for food-contact applications. Regulators said they were particularly concerned about BPA's effect on the development of fetuses, infants and young children. But FDA did not ban BPA or require manufacturers to label products that contain BPA, saying that there is not enough information to require that.
About 7 billion pounds of BPA is produced globally each year for use in baby bottles, dental sealants, CDs, water bottles, food cans and a variety of other items.
Copyright 2010 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.