Senators Seek to Ban BPA in Children's Products

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Many studies over the past year have accumulated evidence that Bisphenol-A (BPA) is dangerous to the health of humans. Two New York senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, announced Sunday a new legislation that will ban the chemical from products that are commonly used by pregnant women and children.

The act is currently called S.753 - The BPA-Free Kids Act of 2009. It will prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution in commerce of children’s food and beverage containers composed of Bisphenol A, and for other purposes, according to the overview on OpenCongress.com. The bill will also provide funding for additional research on BPA through the National Institute of Environmental Health.

BPA is a chemical that is used to make plastics clear and resistant to breakage. It is also used in the resin lining of canned food products. Its damaging effects were first reported by the FDA 13 years ago. It is most harmful to pregnant women and children because the chemical mimics the hormone estrogen and affects reproduction and neural development. It is also linked to breast cancer, male reproductive dysfunction, and behavioral issues in children.

The Breast Cancer Fund has reported that more than 200 studies show that even very small doses of BPA can cross the placenta and cause lasting damage to the developing fetus. The most recent study by the Environmental Working Group found that BPA can be detected in the umbilical cords of newborns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that more than 90% of Americans have BPA circulating in the bloodstream that exceed levels that cause abnormalities in laboratory animals.

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The House and the Senate are considering bills that would expand the ban on BPA to include all food and beverage containers. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts have presented this initiative to Congress, called HR1523 - Ban Poisonous Additive Acts of 2009.

Last month, Consumer Reports released their study of BPA in common brand name foods, even products that are labeled as being BPA-free. Sen. Schumer said of the magazines report, “There have been enough warning signs about the dangers of this chemical that we cannot sit idly by and continue to allow residents across New York City to be exposed. We need to keep this dangerous chemical out of the food chain.”

Many organizations have been awaiting the FDA to evaluate the safety of BPA, and the agency set a deadline of November 30, 2009 to announce its findings. But the agency delayed its decision, stating that it needed more time to evaluate the scientific evidence.

Canada became the first country to issue a ban on BPA last year. Twenty-one states and municipalities in the US have issued legislation against use of the chemical including California, Minnesota, Connecticut and Chicago.

Janet Nudelman, of the Breast Cancer Fund, states, “It is equally important that the agency [FDA] take immediate action to protect pregnant women and children from this toxic chemical, in light of the clear and compelling evidence that BPA is harmful. The weight of the scientific evidence shows that there is no safe level of exposure to BPA and demonstrates why the FDA needs to act now to protect the American people from this highly toxic, hormonally active chemical.”

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