News & Politics

Congress to Consider Banning Some Uses of Toxic Bisphenol A

Sen. Feinstein, Rep. Markey introduce legislation to ban BPA in food and beverage containers.

Today, after several weeks of unprecedented industry, state and municipal push back against the chemical bisphenol A, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced groundbreaking federal legislation that would ban BPA from food and beverage containers.

The legislation is the latest response to mounting scientific evidence that exposure to even extremely low levels of BPA can impact health, including increasing breast cancer risk and interfering with chemotherapy treatment for the disease.

 

“There is a deep sense of public outrage around BPA,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund. “This is a chemical so powerful it can cross the placenta and negatively affect the developing fetus. Retailers are getting the message, manufacturers are moving toward safer production and scientists across the board are saying we have enough evidence of harm to act. Every member of Congress should support the Markey/Feinstein bill – there’s simply no excuse for continued federal inaction on this critical public health issue.”

Yesterday, Sunoco announced plans to restrict sales of BPA to companies that guarantee the chemical will not be used in food and water containers for children under 3, making it the first chemical manufacturer to acknowledge health and safety concerns. Earlier this week, Health Canada released tests showing that BPA was detected in 96 percent of soft drinks tested. Last week, six baby bottle manufacturers said that they would stop using BPA in bottles, and the Suffolk County, N.Y., legislature voted to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. Earlier this month, Washington State House of Representatives voted to ban BPA in children’s food containers, and currently 18 other states are currently considering, or are planning on introducing, legislation to more strictly regulate BPA exposures including California, Minnesota, New York, Connecticut, Oregon, Missouri, Hawaii, Illinois, Wisconsin and New Jersey.

Developed in the 1930s as a synthetic estrogen, BPA is one of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. A main route of human exposure is through food and beverage containers, as BPA is used in the epoxy resin that lines metal food cans and can also be found in some plastic food storage containers, baby bottles, water bottles, microwave ovenware and eating utensils.  BPA can leach into infant formula and other food products, especially when heated. Once in food, BPA can move quickly into people—a real concern for women of childbearing age and for young children.

In 2007 Norway banned the import of consumer products containing BPA. Canada has declared BPA toxic and is moving to regulate the chemical. Taiwan has proposed listing BPA as a potentially toxic substance.

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