Washington, DC — Two U.S. senators, spurred by a Consumer Reports study that found bisphenol A (BPA) in items labeled as BPA-free, have announced new legislation that would ban BPA from food and drink containers meant for infants and children.
The BPA-Free Kids Act would prohibit manufacturing and selling BPA-containing food and beverage products aimed at kids age 3 and under. The bill would cover baby bottles, sippy cups, bowls, plates, utensils and other containers. BPA is a chemical used to make hard plastics and various other products, and has come under increased scrutiny in recent years.
Plastics and container manufacturers would also have to comply with mandatory testing and certification to ensure their products do not contain BPA. Any item that is found to contain BPA would be considered a “banned hazardous substance” under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Companies could face civil and criminal penalties for violating the legislation.
In addition, the bill would provide the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences $5 million a year for five years to begin a five-year research project studying the health effects of BPA on all age groups and pregnant women. Much of the concern with BPA has been its effects on children, infants and fetuses since it's at those stages when a person would be most vulnerable to negative effects from BPA.
Lab studies on BPA have linked the chemical to cancer, reproductive problems like infertility and miscarriages, obesity, prostate problems, and, just recently, intestinal problems. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention test found that 95 percent of Americans have BPA in them at levels at or above levels that cause abnormalities in animals.
A recent Consumer Reports study of 19 brand-name canned foods found that nearly all of them, even some whose labels said they were BPA-free, contain BPA, which is used to make epoxy can liners.
The director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, Linda Birnbaum, even recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that people should avoid the chemical. The paper writes:
While stressing she is not a medical doctor, Birnbaum said she has seen enough studies on the chemical to be concerned about its effects on human health.
A grandmother, Birnbaum said she advises her children to avoid using food packaged in containers made with BPA.
Asked if consumers should be worried about BPA, Birnbaum said, "Absolutely."
Some states and cities have already enacted or are discussing their own BPA legislation. The newly-announced BPA-Free Kids Act would not preempt any state or local laws.