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CA: Stand up to chemical industry and ban BPA

April 25, 2011


Committee Hearing Tuesday, April 26

San Francisco, CA—A coalition of consumer, environmental, and public health groups, representing millions of consumers, urge the California Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee to pass AB 1319, the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act, which would ban the use of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula, and baby food. The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles), will have its first policy hearing in the Assembly on Tuesday, April 26.
BPA, a synthetic estrogen, is a plastic chemical used in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins found in many food and drink containers. It leaches into the food and drink and has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, reproductive problems and other diseases, prompting eight states, Canada, the European Union, China, and Malaysia to ban it in certain children’s products. BPA-ban legislation is currently pending in 15 states.
“The science on BPA clearly shows cause for alarm and it’s a shame that we have failed to protect our most vulnerable citizens from this toxic chemical,” said Assemblymember Betsy Butler. “Every child from every community in our state deserves access to safe, affordable products. This is a fight worth having because big chemical and pharmaceutical money shouldn’t be allowed to trump the health of babies in California. I am proud to be authoring AB 1319 and honored to have the support of so many outstanding individuals and organizations.”
California has become a critical battleground for BPA, a $6 billion industry, which reportedly spent $5 million to defeat last year’s BPA bill. That measure failed narrowly when two ill legislators, both of whom had voted for the bill previously, were absent for the crucial final vote.
“California must follow several other states, municipalities, and countries that have banned BPA in children’s products, take a stand against the powerful chemical industry, and protect infants and young children from BPA,” said Elisa Odabashian, West Coast Director of Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.
Children may metabolize BPA more slowly than adults and are particularly vulnerable to BPA, found in many plastic products, and which has been linked to developmental problems, early puberty, breast cancer, childhood obesity and neurological and behavioral changes such as autism and hyperactivity.
“This bill will help ensure the safety of the more than 500,000 babies born each year in California,” said Renee Sharp, California Director of the Environmental Working Group. “There are many alternatives on the market and some major manufacturers have already taken the responsible path toward eliminating these hazards from the products targeted by AB 1319.”
The chemical industry is gearing up once again, reaching deep into its war chest and claiming that BPA is safe and that there are no safer alternatives. Consumers Union recently refuted industry’s misleading and false claims about BPA’s safety here. The bill will help also ensure that products laced with BPA don’t end up in poorer communities. It will allow parents to buy safer products for their children without having to do research and read the fine print on labels.
“We have enough evidence that BPA is a chemical of concern and that we should stop needlessly exposing infants and toddlers to this chemical,” said Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles. “We hope California legislators pass this important public health measure.”
The measure includes a provision that expressly allows the pending Green Chemistry Program to look at the science of BPA and have any decision that is made regarding BPA in children’s products override the requirements of the bill.

Naomi Starkman, CU, 917.539.3924, nstarkman@gmail.com