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California Assembly votes to pass bill banning BPA from baby bottles

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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For Immediate Release, July 1, 2010
Contact EWG Public Affairs: 202.667.6982.

California State Assembly Passes BPA Bill

Governor Could Have Bill on His Desk by Summer’s End

Oakland, Ca – The health of California’s children was represented today in Sacramento when a majority of the State Assembly voted to remove the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from food and beverage containers designed for children 3 and younger.

Forty-three lawmakers voted to pass the “Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act” (SB 797) originally authored by State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica). Pavley’s bill, which was already approved by the Senate, now goes back to the upper chamber for a final procedural vote where it is expected to pass before heading to the Governor for his consideration.

Senator Pavley authored the legislation in response to mounting scientific evidence that exposure to even very low levels of BPA can impact health. More than 200 scientific studies show that BPA exposure, particularly during early infancy, is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects later in life, including breast and prostate cancer, birth defects, infertility in men, early puberty in girls, diabetes and obesity.

The main route of exposure in humans is from food and beverage containers where BPA leaches from the hard plastic.

“The chemical industry may have had the money, but science and the public’s concern for children’s health came out on top today,” said the director of EWG’s California office, Renee Sharp. “California parents are closer than ever to that day when they won’t have to worry if their babies and toddlers are ingesting BPA.”

"I applaud those in the Assembly who had the courage to stand up for babies and against the chemical industry lobbyists,” said actress, cancer survivor and public health advocate Fran Drescher. “This is how government is supposed to work. A chemical associated with so many serious health problems, including cancer, should never come in contact with a child during the most critical period of development.” Ms. Drescher is the founder of the Cancer Schmancer Movement, dedicated to saving women's lives through early detection of cancer.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), The Breast Cancer Fund and Physicians For Social Responsibility/Los Angeles are sponsors of the Pavley legislation and have worked together to build support for the measure in Sacramento.

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.


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