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California Assembly votes to pass bill banning BPA from baby bottles

July 1, 2010 |  4:29 pm

Babybottle2 On Thursday, the California State Assembly voted to pass a bill that would ban the chemical Bisphenol-A from baby bottles and other items that come in contact with small children. The Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act, or SB 797, would ban the use of BPA in feeding products, such as formula, for children 3 years old and younger.

BPA has been linked with health problems including infertility, autism, hyperactivity and breast cancer. In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reversed its long-held position that BPA posed no concern, calling for more studies of the artificial hormone that is often used in shatter-proof plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and formula can linings.

Authored by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), SB 797 was first introduced in early 2009 and made it to the Assembly for a vote last September. It was defeated by members who thought the Legislature should not be reviewing chemicals. Sen. Pavley asked for reconsideration and on Thursday it received the additional votes necessary to pass. It will return to the Senate for another vote in August, at which point it could move on to Gov. Schwarzenegger for his signature.

"We're opposed to it," said Tim Shestek, senior director of state affairs for the American Chemistry Council. "We don't believe that the Legislature ... should be in the business of making decisions on these complex scientific questions. That's why they created the Green Chemistry Initiative, so state scientists can evaluate chemicals in consumer products."

The Green Chemistry Initiative was a bill that passed the California Legislature in September 2008. It required the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to prioritize chemicals of concern and to put the burden of chemical testing on that agency, not industry.

"Sen. Pavely is supportive of the Green Chemistry Initiative and we look forward to having a process in place so that we can evaluate chemicals of concern, but it's not up and running and we don't know when it will be," said Sen. Pavley's legislative director, Elise Thurau. "This bill is integrated with the green chemistry process."

If passed, SB 797 would require the manufacturers of baby bottles, cups and jars to discontinue use of BPA by January 2012. Makers of infant formula would need to comply by July 2012.

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Plastic baby bottles that contain BPA would be banned under a bill passed in the state Assembly Thursday. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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