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California has recently outlawed the sale of children’s sippy cups and baby bottles containing the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA which is often used to harden plastics. This move is in response to the many other bills which have gone through state legislatures in the past year. Minnesota, Connecticut and the city of Chicago outlawed the sale of baby food containers made with the chemical amidst concerns that it poses a health hazard for children and adults. 55 bills in 20 states aim to limit the use or sale of baby food jars and cans of formula containing BPA. Additionally, Canada banned baby bottles made with BPA because of uncertainty as to the potential effects of low levels of BPA exposure over an extended period of time. The chemical industry and baby food manufacturers have been caught off guard in the last two years by the overwhelming push to ban the use of the plastic ingredient. They’ve mounted a defense of over a dozen lobbyists from groups like the American Chemical Council, Enfamil, and Similac. The concern of these groups is that when California does something, it tends to spread across the nation. With the FDA agreeing to reconsider the safety of BPA this summer, chemical and baby food industry representatives worry a federal ban could be on the horizon. Lobbyists for these interests argue the amount of BPA in consumer goods is so miniscule it shouldn’t pose any health risk to children or adults, and that there’s no scientific basis for such an assessment. They say that the amount of the chemical found in most Americans is 1000 times below what European regulators have established are safe levels for BPA. Studies connecting BPA concentrations with medical problems in adults have indeed proven too inconclusive to act on, but compelling evidence does exist. For example, a study by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded BPA from clear polycarbonate water bottles (Nalgenes) leaches from the plastic into the water and into the human body. The reason that concerns about BPA are so elevated for baby bottles and baby food containers is because BPA leaches from these vessels into food and milk generating significant exposures to young children who cannot metabolize the harmful chemical as well as adults. These assessments were the result of studies initiated after a 2007 study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences which found BPA caused reproductive abnormalities in mice. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics has sounded the alarm: “The AAP is deeply concerned…that the current scientific evidence is largely insufficient to draw accurate conclusions about the safety of exposure to BPA, particularly with respect to vulnerable populations including pregnant women, infants, and children.”

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