United States lawmakers have taken the first steps toward banning the use of a toxic chemical blamed for causing developmental problems in children from baby bottles and other beverage containers.
Two bills have been introduced into the House of Representatives and the Senate to establish a federal ban on bisphenol A (BPA) in all food and beverage containers. The legislation has not yet been debated or subjected to a vote.
BPA is a chemical added to many types of clear, hard plastics to make them more shatterproof. It is also used in the linings of many aluminum cans but it has drawn heightened controversy for its use in clear plastic baby bottles, since studies have shown BPA can interfere with hormone development and other problems in infants fed from bottles containing the chemical.
The Food and Drug Administration has most recently declared BPA safe when it is used at currently approved levels, but vowed to continue monitoring continuing scientific research into its possible risks. Canadian and European leaders have already banned BPA for use in baby bottles.
Other Efforts to Limit BPA
The new bills, sponsored by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), follow various efforts to limit the use of BPA in baby bottles.
Just last week, some of the largest makers of baby bottles vowed to stop using BPA in their products. Six major brands including as Avent, Playtex, and Gerber, were part of that agreement. Sunoco, a leading gas and chemical company, this week told investors that the company would no longer be selling BPA to companies for use in food and water containers for children under age 3. The company reportedly told investors that it could no longer vouch for the safety of BPA when used in those products.
Also, officials in Suffolk County, New York recently passed a ban against BPA from products sold in that county. The Suffolk County ban still needs the signature from a county commissioner to become final.
Federal Ban is Overdue
Scientists have been documenting risks of injury to children associated with BPA for years. When ingested over time, BPA can build up in the body and mimic estrogen, a key hormone in developing children. When the health and safety of our children is at stake, officials should act with an abundance of caution in regulating threats such as BPA use.
Federal lawmakers should be applauded for taking the steps (arguably overdue) to ban BPA from beverage containers, including baby bottles, which could serve to protect millions of American children and others from devastating injuries.