San Francisco’s ban on bisphenol-A products

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Oct. 20, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

In June of 2006 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor passed an ordinance that prohibits the manufacture, distribution in commerce and sale of toys and child care articles intended for use by a child under three years of age made with bisphenol-A and phthalates as of December 1, 2006. 

"Toy" is defined as "an article made for the amusement of a child or for his or her use in play" and "child care article" is defined as "all products designed or intended by the manufacturer to facilitate sleep, relaxation, or the feeding of children, or to help children with sucking or teething."  Examples include, but are not limited to: toys; dolls; baby bottles; pacifiers; bike helmets; car seats; bibs; beach, bath and pool toys; bath books and sports equipment.

The decision was made without a public hearing, without consultation with affected companies and without scientific review.  A broad-based industry coalition opposed the ordinance and petitioned the Board to hold a hearing at which the science could be reviewed, but they were refused.  Requests to postpone the December 1 date in order to hold informational hearings have been met with silence.  (Many grocers and retailers within the City and County of San Francisco bought products for the Holiday Season which will now be banned.) 

No other government that has reviewed the scientific evidence has banned or restricted bisphenol-A. To the contrary, many governments and scientific bodies from across the world have unanimously concluded that low levels of bisphenol-A pose no health risk to humans. The Children’s Product Safety Council, which recently conducted the most comprehensive assessments ever done, concluded that there was no health risk from vinyl toy products.  It completely exonerated phthalates at every level. In September, the European Chemicals Bureau released the findings of a 10-year risk assessment of DINP, DIDP and DBP phthalates and found "no concern" for adults, children and infants.

Similar attempts to ban products with bisphenol-A and phthalates have been made at the state legislature where, after reviewing the scientific evidence, have failed passage. San Francisco’s ban is an example of how environmentalists are using local governments to pass rules that have failed at the state level, creating patchwork regulations for businesses that cross county lines. CMTA believes that local entities are ill-equipped to evaluate the scientific, economic, environmental and other ramifications of taking steps such as these.  These are matters better left to the authority of the state, as is currently provided by the California Hazardous Substances Act that addresses substances in consumer products.


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