Large Crowd Supports Proposed Ban on Toxic BPA in Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups
State Urged to Ban Greatest BPA Source - Infant Formula, Baby Food and Other Kids’ Food Packaging
Calling bisphenol A (BPA) one of the “worst-of-the-worst” toxic chemicals in consumer products, a large crowd of parents, scientists, doctors, nurses, business owners, and environmental health advocates expressed a resounding show of support for the Department of Environmental Protection’s proposal to name BPA as Maine’s first “Priority Chemical” under the landmark Kid-Safe Products Act of 2008 and ban its use in baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles, thermoses, and other reusable food and beverage containers.
Dr. Jeffrey Peterson, a pediatrician from Yarmouth and representative of Physicians for Social Responsibility told the Board of Environmental Protection, “The scientific evidence against BPA is overwhelming. It is a powerful hormone disruptor that has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, reproductive damage, learning disabilities, and obesity. Exposure in the womb, during infancy, or in childhood can set the stage for a lifetime of health problems. The cost of BPA for Maine families and Maine’s economy is both staggering and preventable. It’s completely appropriate and essential that BPA be banned from all products marketed for children.”
Michael Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center expressed support for the proposed action while highlighting its serious shortcomings. Belliveau stated, “Maine joins the many angry moms and other governments who have already driven BPA out of plastic baby bottles and sports water bottles. We applaud the state for targeting BPA but we need swifter action to protect children’s health, not more studies. Unfortunately, the current proposal fails to eliminate the greatest source of BPA exposure to young children – food packaging. Maine needs to phase-out cans and jars that leach BPA into infant formula, baby food, and toddler food as the next step.”
In Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Act, Maine lawmakers expressly authorized the regulation of food packaging when intentionally marketed to or intended for use by children under age three. Belliveau added, “Failure is not an option when it comes to protecting our children’s health. Safer alternatives are out there, so we owe it to our kids to require them.”
Bisphenol-A was developed over a century ago and was considered for use as an estrogen replacement therapy in the 1930’s. BPA is now used as a chemical building block for polycarbonate plastic. It has been widely used in baby bottles, food storage containers, and in the epoxy resins that coat the lining of metal food cans, including infant formula cans, and jar lids. BPA is considered one of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.
Cheryl Denis, a mother of two from Portland told the Board, “Would any of us knowingly give our children estrogen, even in small doses every day? Of course not. But the shocking truth is that BPA is playing hormone havoc with pregnant women and children everywhere. I am outraged that this dangerous chemical is still in so many of the products we use every day. We’re counting on Maine policymakers to protect our kids from this toxic and unnecessary chemical.”
Many businesses and governments have already acted on BPA. Major retail chains and baby bottle manufacturers, including Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Gerber, and Playtex are phasing out or reducing the use or sale of BPA-containing bottles. Seven other states have already passed legislation banning BPA in plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and other products. Two other New England states, Connecticut and Vermont, have banned BPA in infant formula cans and baby food jars. Action is pending in at least ten others. Denmark recently banned BPA in all infant food packaging while Canada and France have banned BPA in baby bottles. Japan asked manufacturers for voluntary restriction of BPA from canned food in 1998 and saw a decline in their population’s levels of contamination.
“Designating BPA as Maine’s first Priority Chemical is a no-brainer” said Matt Prindiville, Clean Production Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. He added, “It’s time we joined the many other states, countries, and businesses around the world that have taken steps to protect children from this dangerous chemical. It’s also time for BPA manufacturers and users to stop fighting regulation and start using safer alternatives.”
The Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) proposed action on BPA is the next step in implementing Maine’s groundbreaking Kid-Safe Products Act, which was passed overwhelming by the Legislature in 2008. Under the law, the Maine DEP has already identified 1700 Chemicals of High Concern. Now the DEP has until January 2011 to name at least two of these as Priority Chemicals. Such a designation triggers a requirement that manufacturers disclose which products they sell in Maine that contain these Priority Chemicals. The law also empowers DEP to phase out the use of priority chemicals in consumer products to which children are exposed whenever safer alternatives are available.
If the Board of Environmental Protection votes to support the DEP proposal, the designation of BPA as a Priority Chemical and the reporting requirements will go into effect immediately. Any bans on BPA use adopted by the Board will then go to the Maine Legislature for final approval early next year. The Board of Environmental Protection is accepting written comments on the proposal through August 30th.