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Lawmakers in New York's Suffolk County passed what would be the first ban on bisphenol-A (BPA) from baby bottles in the US. While Canada has have a similar ban for over a year, and a growing number of US localities may follow, up to now a heavily criticized FDA has found no problem with current levels of BPA exposure.
According to the National Toxicology Program (NTP), BPA is a chemical produced in large quantities for polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are used in products including baby bottles, cds and medical devices. Epoxy resins are used to line cans, bottle tops and water supply pipes.
What's the concern? BPA leaches from products containing it into people. As the NTP notes, according to a 2003-2004 study by the Center for Disease Control, 93% of urine samples from people six years and older contained detectable levels of BPA. According to Newsday, the harms feared by BPA opponents include increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stunted growth, along with certain cancers and potential interferences with cancer treatments. The NTP concluded that there is "some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A."
Yesterday, as Newsday reports, legislators in Suffolk County New York voted to ban the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups intended for children 3 or younger containing BPA. Should it be enacted, this would reportedly make Suffolk County the first place in the US with such a BPA ban. The growing list of states considering a BPA ban from children's products includes Washington, Oregon, California, Connecticut and Minnesota. As Newsday reports, many retailers have already begun to move away from baby products containing BPA.
At the federal level, controversy has plagued the FDA's response to BPA concerns. Last August, the FDA released a Draft Assessment of BPA, finding an "adequate margin of safety" in then-current levels of BPA exposure. In October, as USA Today reported, the FDA's findings were rebuked. An FDA advisory board of outside experts unanimously concluded that the FDA was wrong to base its findings solely on studies funded by the chemical industry. The advisory board also admonished the FDA for excluding studies suggesting a harm to children from BPA levels 10 times lower than that allowed by the FDA.
In December, the Washington Post reported that the FDA refused to amend its position on BPA, but would continue to study it. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rep. Edward Markey and Sen. Charles Schumer will reintroduce federal legislation to ban BPA from children's products.
As Suffolk County illustrated, localities might not wait for the FDA or Congress to act. As praised in a Chicago Tribune editorial, two Chicago city councilmen recently proposed a resolution to aggressively pursue a BPA ban if the FDA doesn't act by April 30.
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