Chicago Bans Bisphenol-A in Baby Bottles

Chicago Bans Bisphenol-A in Baby Bottles

CHICAGO, Illinois, May 13, 2009 (ENS) – Chicago City Council today passed the nation’s first municipal ordinance to protect children’s health by eliminating the toxic chemical bisphenol-A from baby bottles and toddler’s sippy cups sold in the city as of January 1, 2011.

Bisphenol-A is used to make plastics clear and shatter-resistant, and is commonly found in water bottles, food containers, baby bottles, some dental fillings and the coatings for the inside of cans containing foods and beverages.

BPA mimics the hormone estrogen and recent studies have raised concerns about the hormonal impact the chemical can have on the prostate gland, mammary gland, and reproductive development of fetuses, infants, and children.

“I am hopeful that by passing this legislation in Chicago, we can begin a nationwide movement that will inspire other municipal and state jurisdictions to eliminate BPA from food containers in their communities,” said Chicago Alderman Manny Flores, who sponsored the ordinance.

Clear, shatter-resistant baby bottles can contain BPA. (Photo by Fiona Galliver)

The law is one of the first anywhere in the country. To date, only the state of Minnesota and Suffolk County, New York have enacted similar bans. But BPA bans are pending in Congress and in a dozen state legislatures.

“We applaud Aldermen Ed Burke and Manny Flores for sponsoring this crucial legislation. With Mother’s Day last Sunday, they’ve given the perfect gift to mothers and the tens-of-thousands of Chicago babies born each year,” said Max Muller, program director at Environment Illinois. “The chemical companies that profit from BPA have lobbied furiously to kill these bills, but protecting children from harm prevailed in Chicago.”

“Parents shouldn’t have to be chemists to know what’s safe,” said Brian Imus, state director of Illinois Public Interest Research Group. “This is the only appropriate response to evidence that a known toxic chemical is leaching from baby products.”

In response to Chicago’s new law, the American Chemistry Council, a trade association, said, “This new Chicago law is contrary to the global consensus on the safety of BPA and ignores the expert evaluations of scientists and government bodies from around the world. These particular restrictions on the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups, intended for use by children under the age of three and which contain bisphenol A (BPA), are unwarranted.”

While BPA has earned approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for what are called “food contact” consumer products, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research has shown that 95 percent of tested Americans have BPA levels at or above those found to cause abnormalities in animals.

Clear plastic sippy cups can contain BPA. (Photo by Rebekah Ireland)

Since 1997, over 100 published studies have documented adverse effects in animals caused by exposure to low levels of BPA. Lab animals exposed to BPA have been found to be more likely to have miscarriages, prostate problems and cancers. Studies also link BPA to obesity, infertility and behavioral changes in test animals.

A Food and Drug Administration panel that reviewed the safety of BPA considered only studies funded by the American Chemistry Council and by firms whose clients include BPA manufacturers.

The FDA’s own science advisory board criticized the panel’s finding, noting that “the Margins of Safety defined by FDA as ‘adequate’ are, in fact, not adequate.”

The American Chemistry Council said today that it stands behind the FDA process.

In February the FDA stated, “With regard to BPA generally, based on all available evidence, the consensus of regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan is that the current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and young children.”

“The body of evidence that documents harmful effects of BPA at low doses — doses very similar to what is found in humans — is very compelling when examined as a whole,” said Dr. Gail Prins, a physiology and urology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A BPA researcher who has studied BPA’s links to prostate cancer, Dr. Prins said, “To ignore this scientific data any longer will be seen as negligence.”

On May 8, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups after Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the legislation into law. The BPA ban passed with significant bipartisan support; only 13 of 179 votes were cast in opposition to the ban, which takes effect January 1, 2011.

Governor Pawlenty also signed the Toxic Free Kids Act, which creates a system to address the problem of toxics in children’s products.

“Passing Minnesota’s BPA ban sends a clear message that we no longer have to accept unnecessary exposures to toxic chemicals in baby bottles. Despite the massive lobbying efforts of the chemical industry, the value of protecting children from harm has prevailed,” said Lindsay Dahl of the Healthy Legacy coalition, which advocated for the ban.

“This is a great victory for Minnesota’s parents. After January 1, 2011, parents will know that regardless of what store they are in, the baby bottles and sippy cups will be BPA free,” said state Representative Karen Clark of Minneapolis, chief author of the House provision.

Bottles made without BPA already are available. (Photo credit unknown)

Other bills are pending in California, Connecticut, Michigan and New York.

Congressional Democrats are introducing legislation aimed at ridding the nation of BPA.

Senator Diane Feinstein of California and Congressman Ed Markey have introduced bills that would ban BPA from food and beverage containers.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York has introduced the BPA-Free Kids Act, which would ban BPA in all children’s products aimed at kids age three and younger.

Schumer said, “Many manufacturers and retailers are already taking the appropriate steps to get these products off the shelves, and now we want to make sure that everyone takes the same responsible steps to protect our children.”

Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us and Sears are phasing out baby bottles containing BPA. Earlier this spring, the nation’s six largest baby bottle manufacturers announced that they have either already eliminated BPA or will phase it out of their product lines. Likewise, chemical maker Sunoco instituted a policy that it will no longer sell BPA to customers for use in food and water containers for children under three years of age.

In October 2008, Canada became the first country in the world to ban the import and sale of baby bottles containing bisphenol-A. In March, a Health Canada study of canned soda pop found the vast majority of the drinks tested contained bisphenol-A that had leached from the containers’ linings into the drinks.