California has banned the artificial hormone and endocrine disruptor Bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles and sippy cups. Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation into law, joining ten other states with similar laws. BPA is already banned in baby bottles in Canada, China and the European Union. Assemblymember Betsy Butler
says, "After years of fighting to ban BPA, the health of our children has prevailed and California will finally join other states and countries in recognizing the significant danger this toxic chemical poses."
Industry leaders are quick to point out that they've already been phasing BPA out of baby bottles and sippy cups. Several name brands use a BPA-free notice on their products. When the trade group American Chemistry Council
posted its media release promoting self-regulation of the BPA-free baby products, it stressed its position that BPA is safe. ACC spokesperson Kathryn St. John said emphatically in an interview with Flour Sack Mama, "It is not based on safety; BPA is safe in these products." St. John said the ACC wanted to provide certainty for consumers. When I asked St. John whether the ACC would be agreeing to also help phase out BPA from the linings of baby formula cans, she dismissed that as a separate issue.
Several consumer groups have been urging the ban of BPA from food and beverage containers for years. This includes the Consumers Union
, which publishes Consumer Reports. Numerous studies have pointed to potential dangers. The US Food and Drug Administration stated in 2010 that it had "some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children." There is currently no federal law against using BPA in consumer products.
When I inquired with FDA spokesperson Douglas Karas about the agency's stance on BPA, he pointed out a recent study by the National Center for Toxicological Research
that he describes as reassuring. He noted the health concerns that the FDA stated in 2010, along with, "The FDA would take regulatory action if it thought that the current exposure to BPA through some food container materials was unsafe."
Regulatory efforts in California started out broader, including the linings of baby formula cans. Yet this part of the protection measure was left out in order to ensure passage of the narrower law. A spokesperson in Assemblymember Butler's office called the law, "a step in the right direction."