Bisphenol A: Should there be laws?
The Food and Drug Administration's about-face on the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to harden the plastic of sippy cups and baby bottles and to seal the inside of tin cans, could spur the adoption of bills in the California Legislature and U.S. Congress to restrict the chemical.
Despite a 2008 determination under President George W. Bush that the chemical was safe, the Obama administration said Friday that it would spend $30 million to study the effects of BPA. which has been linked to early puberty, obesity, breast cancer and neurological and behavioral changes.
California bills to curb BPA use have been defeated in recent years. Canada, Connecticut, Minnesota and Chicago have placed restrictions on use of the substance. About 30 states and municipalities have bills pending to restrict BPA.
The FDA announcement "is hopefully the start of comprehensive regulation of this dangerous chemical," said state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), author of Senate Bill 797, the Toxin-free Toddlers and Babies Act, which, in conjunction with the California Green Chemistry Initiative, seeks to ban the use of BPA in food and beverage containers for children younger than 3 in California. Pavley said she is "battling the powerful chemical industry," which has defeated previous bills.
In a statement reacting to the FDA decision, the American Chemistry Council said it was disappointed in some of the agency's conclusions. "Extensive scientific studies have shown that BPA is quickly metabolized and excreted and does not accumulate in the body. ... Plastics made with BPA contribute safety and convenience to our daily lives because of their durability, clarity and shatter-resistance."
Consumers checking whether plastic items contain BPA should look for the number "7" at the bottom of the container, an indicator used for recycling.
-- Margot Roosevelt
Photo Credit: Don Bartletti/LA Times