Board of Environmental Protection Votes to Replace BPA in Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups
Today, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) took a significant step forward to protect Maine families from the toxic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA). Today BEP voted to 1) designate BPA as a priority toxic chemical; 2) restrict its use in reusable food and beverage containers such as baby bottles, water bottles and sippy cups; 3) require certain companies to report if they use BPA and 4) start an alternatives assessment process for BPA in infant formula and baby food packaging.
During a six-month public hearing and comment period, the BEP heard the consensus of the nation’s top scientists that BPA is dangerous, even in small doses, such as those we are exposed to every day. BPA is an endocrine disrupting chemical that can reduce immune function, impair brain development and contribute to diseases like breast and prostate cancers later in life.
93% of us are walking around with BPA in our bodies at levels that may be harmful, due to activities like eating canned food or drinking out of polycarbonate plastic bottles or painting the floor with epoxy paint.
Businesses large and small, ranging from the Belfast Co-op to Whole Foods urged the BEP help level the playing field on BPA by getting it out of consumer products. Also, big companies like Nestle, Heinz and General Mills have pledged to eliminate BPA from their food packaging.
NRCM urged BEP to restrict BPA in infant formula and baby food packaging and substitute safer alternatives that are already available. We hope DEP will move expeditiously to speed the alternatives assessment and move forward confidently to get this chemical out of food destined for our children.
This law and this rule are about protecting Maine children’s health. Today we are one step closer to doing so.
CHAPTER 882, DESIGNATION OF BISPHENOL A AS A PRIORITY CHEMICAL AND REGULATION OF BISPHENOL A IN CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS / (provisional adoption)
Staff: Andrea Lani, Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management
BACKGROUND (courtesy Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine):
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is one of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. It was synthesized as an estrogen replacement therapy in the 1930’s and is now a chemical building block for polycarbonate plastic. It has been widely used in baby bottles, food storage containers, and in the epoxy resins that coat the lining of metal food cans, including some infant formula cans.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. BPA exposure has been linked to a significant number of health problems, including learning disabilities, behavior problems, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive damage, diabetes, and obesity.
Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Act was passed overwhelming by the Legislature in 2008. Under the law, the Maine DEP has already identified 1700 Chemicals of High Concern. Now the DEP has until January 2011 to name at least two of these as Priority Chemicals.
Under the Kid-Safe Products Law, in order for chemicals to be considered “Priority Chemicals”, strict criteria must be met, including data showing the chemicals to be present in the human body, in the home environment (e.g. dust, air, water), in the natural environment (e.g. fish, wildlife), and in consumer products used in the home. The chemical must also be produced in high volumes and have been banned already in another state within the United States.
Designation as a Priority Chemical triggers a requirement that manufacturers disclose which products they sell in Maine contain these Priority Chemicals. The law also empowers DEP to require the use of safer alternatives in consumer products to which children are exposed.
There are safer alternatives to BPA for most uses. Many businesses and governments have already acted. Major retail chains and baby bottle manufacturers, including Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Gerber, and Playtex are phasing out or reducing the use or sale of BPA. Seven other states have already passed legislation banning BPA in plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and other products. Action is pending in at least ten others. Denmark recently banned BPA in all infant food packaging while Canada and France have banned BPA in baby bottles. Japan asked manufacturers for voluntary restriction of BPA from canned food in 1998 and saw a decline in their population’s levels of contamination.