Chemical ban bill call to action

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Jan. 13, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On Tuesday, January 10, a joint informational hearing was held of the Assembly Health and the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials committees to discuss the need for legislation to ban the use of certain Phthalates and Bisphenol-A (BPA) in children’s products.  Assemblymember Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) authored AB 319 last year.  This bill made it through Environmental Safety, but was made into a 2-Year bill shortly thereafter.

This bill is an excellent example of the precautionary principle at work.  It is based on the premise that a product should be banned if anyone asserts a safety issue, regardless of whether the science supports the assertion. It ignores that these products have been thoroughly tested while their alternatives pose a question mark. Also, while this bill currently targets phthalates and BPA in children’s products, what products are covered is uncertain and the bill would be "the camel’s nose under the tent."   An extremely high percentage of manufacturers, knowingly or unknowingly, use products produced from Phthalates and BPA in their process, products or marketing.

BPA is commonly used to produce polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.  It has been used for over 50 years and extensively studied throughout the world and determined to be safe.  No country in the world has banned BPA.  Polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins contain only minute levels of BPA following the manufacturing process.  The totality of the scientific evidence indicates that BPA does not pose a risk to human health at the extremely low levels of exposure that may occur from consumer uses of products made with BPA.  BPA is essential to thousands of consumer products, including many that were specifically developed to enhance the safety and protect children and adults from harm.  For example, BPA is essential for shatterproof bottles, reusable food containers, lifesaving medical devices, sports safety equipment and the coating on the inside of most food and beverage cans to protect against contamination.

The body of scientific evidence is also significant and convincing for Phthalates.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) did a peer reviewed health risk study on the primary phthalate in children’s toys (DINP) and found no demonstrable risk. Furthermore, the CPSC stated that: "If DINP is to be replaced in children’s products, whether on a mandatory or voluntary basis, the potential risks of the substitutes must be considered.  Weaker or more brittle plastics might break and result in a choking hazard.  Other plasticizers might not be as well studied as DINP."  Other phthalates proposed to be banned are rarely if ever used in children’s toys.  

Legislating without scientific justification what product and/or chemicals can be used or sold in the state will have a tremendous downstream impact on consumers, businesses, employees, and even state and local governments that rely on sales and income tax revenue.

    ** ALERT **
Assemblymember Chan intends to try to move AB 319 through Assembly Appropriations next Wednesday, January 18.  If you are located in Southern California, we encourage you to call Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez’s office at 916-319-2046 to express your concern.  If you are located in Northern California, we would ask that you either call a member on the Appropriations Committee or your Assemblymember.  AB 319 sets a dangerous precedent.
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