BPA in Plastic and Epoxy Resins
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound used in many consumer products. Businesses have used BPA in food packaging since the 1960s. Despite health concerns raised as early as the 1990s, production of BPA has continued at a rate of more than 1 million metric tons a year.
Health problems can occur when BPA leaches out of packaging and into the food that is going to be consumed by people. Bisphenol A is "estrogenic," i.e., it mimics the female sex hormone estrogen. Studies have linked BPA to breast and prostate cancer and diabetes. It's also been linked to reduced fertility and birth defects.
Consumers filed lawsuits against manufacturers of products containing BPA. Organizations like the National Resource Defense Fund filed petitions to force the government to limit BPA use in children's products.
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended its regulations to say that BPA could no longer be used in baby bottles and sippy cups. In 2014, it said BPA could not be used to line containers of infant formula. Several states also banned the use of BPA in some products.
What Products Contain BPA?
Manufacturers still use BPA in consumer products, including:
- Can liners on metal food cans
- Gel-filled baby teething rings
- Hard, clear plastic food or beverage containers
- Cash register receipt thermal paper (unless it's BPA free)
- Dental sealants
Many, but not all, of the plastic products marked with the recycling code 7 contain BPA. Products with other recycling codes do not contain BPA.
BPA is usually NOT used in baby bottles or sippy cups manufactured after July 2011, sports water bottles manufactured after July 2012, or infant formula containers.
What Risks Follow Exposure to BPA?
Since BPA mimics the hormone estrogen in the human body, it has the potential to cause a wide range of health problems, especially for young children. Researchers have linked exposure to BPA to:
- Birth defects
- Breast and prostate cancer
- Reduced fertility and sexual difficulties
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed, in 2011, to review the problems with BPA in packaging for food and drinks.
Based on the health risks that researchers identified, several plaintiffs filed BPA lawsuits against product manufacturers in 2010 and 2011. Attorneys attempted to consolidate three cases into a BPA class action lawsuit (called a multidistrict lawsuit), but a federal court in Missouri refused to certify the case. Plaintiffs were then told they could try to consolidate a case for Missouri complainants, but the judge then said they lacked standing.
BPA lawsuits typically involved the assertion of claims that the manufacturers:
- Violated consumer protection statutes,
- Committed a breach of warranty,
- Had unjust enrichment from the sale of dangerous products
- And should be found guilty of strict product liability, breach of contract, and negligence.
After the failure of the court case in Missouri, product liability attorneys largely stopped accepting BPA cases. BPA remains problematic. It is found on California's Proposition 65 List of chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm
BPA in Baby Bottles
BPA has been deauthorized by the FDA for use in baby bottles. Before the FDA ban, many baby bottle manufacturers had voluntarily removed BPA from their products. (One manufacturer, Philips, agreed to offer refunds to purchasers of its Avent brand baby bottles and sippy cups. The company continued to argue that it provided adequate warning of the presence of BPA in the products.)
Many states went further and banned BPA from children's products altogether. Products covered by these bans include baby bottles and sippy cups, formula, and baby food cans.
The threat of BPA Lawsuits Influences Action
Although BPA class action lawsuits did not move forward, they raised awareness of BPA use in infant products. Scientific research and legal pressure combined, pushed the manufacturing industry to change its practices.
If you or a family member has been injured by a dangerous product, you may have a legal case. Talk to an experienced, local product liability attorney in your area.
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