WASHINGTON, DC — A compromise agreement that would have banned bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles was blocked from being added to the food safety bill being discussed in the Senate.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., released a statement saying she and Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming reached a compromise agreement to ban the use of BPA, a chemical linked to a range of health issues, in baby bottles and sippy cups until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues a revised safety assessment on it.
The FDA would have had until Dec. 1, 2012 to release a new assessment, and states would have been allowed to create their own laws on BPA.
The BPA agreement, though, was kept out of the food safety bill, and Feinstein pinned the blame on the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry trade group that has previously fought against legislation on BPA and other chemicals.
Feinstein said she was blocked from offering up the agreement, and she said that the ACC was the main driver behind opposition by other senators. In the last two years, the ACC has lobbied against various state laws as well as the the Ban Poisonous Additives (BPA) Act of 2009, which never made it out of committee. It also opposed Canada's decision to label BPA as a toxic chemical. And while the ACC agreed with some concepts in a bill aimed at reforming the U.S.'s chemicals policy, it did not support the exact legislation.
The ACC did not respond to phone and email requests for comment, but told NPR that it has "consistently advocated for respecting the scientific assessment of the experts at FDA who have the capacity and expertise to make food safety contact decisions." In late 2008 the FDA said that current levels of BPA exposure are safe, but earlier this year the FDA said it agrees with the National Toxicology Program's statement that there is "some concern" over the chemical's effects on fetuses, infants and young children, and that it would continue research on it.
Seven states already have passed legislation banning BPA, as have other countries like Canada and France. Various health bodies have expressed concern over BPA's impacts on people, particularly on children and infants, since they receive higher concentrations of BPA when exposed to it. BPA has been linked to various reproductive and development problems, a high concern when it comes to children, as well as diabetes and other health problems.
That concern, along with various bans by states, cities and other local governments, has led many companies to voluntarily remove BPA from reusable water bottles and baby products — more than 14 baby bottle and sippy cup manufacturers so far offer some or only BPA-free products — and various food companies and retailers to switch to BPA alternatives for the epoxy resin liners in canned foods.
Studies have found BPA in over 80 percent and up to 99 percent of people tested, and while it's been found that people's bodies expel BPA rapidly, such consistently high findings hints that humans undergo constant exposure to BPA, which is also found in thermal receipt paper, dental sealants, CDs and DVDs, and various other products.
Others, though, are not urging quick action against the chemical. Recently a panel convened by the World Health Organization said it would be premature to enact any BPA regulations based on recent studies that claim to link low doses of BPA exposure to health problems.
Baby bottle - CC license by Flickr user mynameisharsha