Bisphenol A debate moves to Senate floor

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 1, 2009 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

SB 797 (Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica), deemed the Toxin-Free Toddlers and Babies Act, would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution in commerce of any bottle, cup, or liquid, food, or beverage in a can or jar that contains Bisphenol A (BPA) at a level above 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) if the item is designed or intended to be used primarily for consumption by infants or children three years of age or younger.  It would also require that manufacturers use the least toxic alternative when replacing BPA in the container.  This bill is very similar to legislation carried last year by termed-out Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), SB 1713, which failed passage on the Assembly Floor.

BPA is used as a primary monomer in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.  BPA is also used as an antioxidant in plasticizers and as a polymerization inhibitor in polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  Polycarbonates are widely used in many consumer products, from sunglasses and compact discs to water and food containers and shatter-resistant baby bottles.  Some epoxy resins containing BPA are popular coatings for the inside of cans used for baby food.   It is questionable whether there is an adequate, let alone economical, substitute for BPA in cans of baby foods and lids.

The author maintains that BPA is a known hormone disruptor.  This conclusion is in reaction to studies with mice that showed exposure to BPA during fetal development could result in altered development of prostate glands and breasts. These alterations could increase the risk of cancer. However, no substantiated evidence proves that exposure for humans will produce the same results.  Some toxicologists and regulatory agencies have criticized low-dose toxicity studies, especially those that involved injecting BPA directly into animals, since human exposures typically involve ingestion and subsequent metabolism in the liver.  The experimental design of a few of these early studies has also been questioned.

This type of chemical bill, based on the precautionary principle, is precisely why the Green Chemistry Initiative bills were passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor last year.  Legislators should not be making such decisions.  Scientists should.  No government in the world "local, state or national" currently bans the use of BPA.  

SB 797 passed out of Senate Health on April 29th and now heads to the Senate floor.

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