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