BPA—a chemical found in the linings of cans and in polycarbonate plastic, including some sports bottles, food-storage containers and baby bottles—has potential links to a wide range of health effects, including an increased risk of diseases or disorders of the brain, reproductive and immune systems. The California bill, sponsored by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica, was passed by the California Senate last year and is now set for a concurrence vote, after which the bill will be sent to Governor Schwarzenegger to sign into law.
“Given the existing and growing body of scientific knowledge about the health risks of BPA to consumers—and the growing U.S. consumer and industry movement against this chemical—we strongly support the California Assembly’s passage of this bill,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Technical Director for Policy, Consumers Union. “Consumers Union believes that that there is enough scientific evidence to date to warrant a ban on BPA in all food contact products now.”
A recent CDC study showed that more than 90 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine suggesting that exposure to BPA is likely prevalent and ongoing. In January, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed its position on the safety of BPA, voicing “some concern” about its effects on children and infants, but stopped short of calling for a ban. Previously the agency had said trace amounts of the chemical that leach out of food containers are not dangerous. But the agency has since agreed to reconsider that decision after its own advisory committee declared it relied on a small number of industry-sponsored studies.
Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin have passed bans on BPA in food and drink containers intended for children 3 and younger. Chicago and several counties in New York have taken similar action. Bills are also pending in Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Canada became the first country to ban BPA use in baby bottles in 2008. Denmark, France, and Australia have taken measures to ban BPA as well.
Federal legislation to ban BPA in all food and beverage containers, the “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2009,” was introduced in Congress on March 20, 2009. The bills, which are identical, are sponsored by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
In its December 2009 issue, Consumer Reports tested canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans and found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods contained measurable levels of BPA. The findings are noteworthy because they indicate how widespread and, in some cases, significant, exposure to the chemical is.
Consumers Union has repeatedly called on the FDA to ban BPA materials from food and beverage contact containers and has urged that at the very least, immediate steps be taken to protect infants and children. For more information, please visit Consumer Reports’ website, www.greenerchoices.org/bpa.
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Dr. Urvashi Rangan, 646.594.0212
Naomi Starkman, 917.539.3924