State Bans: Beginning of End for BPA?
When we purchase food, toys, household items, and other products for our infants and children, we rely on the manufacturers to create safe merchandise. Some toys are not what they seem, however. In fact, many contain substances that harm infants and children. California recently joined 10 other states in banning the chemical BPA from infant and children’s products. Here is some background on BPA and its brushes with the law.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is an ingredient in many hard plastic products, including baby bottles, sippy cups, and toys. It is also used as an ingredient in food product can liners, including canned infant formula. BPA is a known endocrine (hormone) disruptor, which may cause child development problems. BPA has been linked to autism, breast cancer, childhood obesity, early puberty, and hyperactivity.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that recyclable plastic products marked with a number 3 or 7 may contain BPA, but plastic products with the numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 are unlikely to contain BPA.
The DHHS and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) state that the benefits of plastic packaging, including packaging that contains BPA, outweigh the health and environmental risks. Both agencies also state that more research is needed to assess potential BPA health hazards. The EPA is continuing to investigate the health and environmental effects of BPA. Instead of waiting for the EPA’s test results, however, California legislators went ahead and banned BPA based on the strong evidence already available.
There has been a nine-to-one margin in laboratory studies indicating that BPA causes harmful health effects (90%), as opposed to no health effects (10%). When harmful effects occur 90 percent of the time with any ingredient or product, it cannot be considered safe to use.
This October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act (Assembly Bill 1319) into state law, and it will go into effect on July 13, 2013. The purpose of the law is to protect children from potential health hazards that may result from BPA exposure and consumption. It bans the use of BPA in all products related to babies and children. California Assembly Member Betsy Butler (D) introduced the bill into legislation, which gained the support of the governor and many legislators.
California has some of strictest health and environmental laws and regulations in the United States. The banning of BPA in California further widens the gap between state and federal health laws and regulations. The California Legislature Assembly Bill 1319, which bans the use of BPA in children’s products, can be reviewed online.
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