Bills have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate to ban bisphenol A (BPA) in all food and beverage containers, due to growing concerns that the chemical could pose long-term health risks, especially for young children.
The legislation was introduced on March 13, 2009, by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Charles E. Schumer (D-New York), and Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts).
Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is used in a variety of different plastic consumer products like baby bottles, soda can linings, food and beverage containers. The chemical is used to the make the plastic hard and shatterproof.
Health concerns over the safety of BPA have grown in recent years, as experts have suggested that low doses of BPA can seep into the food or liquid in the containers. Exposure to the chemicals over a long period of time could result in developmental abnormalities and health problems.
The concerns have mainly focused on the use of BPA in baby bottles, as infants and young children may not eliminate the chemical from their body fast enough to prevent accumulation of toxic amounts.
BPA has also been linked to breast and testicular cancer, obesity, hyperactivity, diabetes, miscarriage, low sperm count and other reproductive problems in laboratory animals.
In October 2008, the attorney generals of several states wrote to the major manufacturers of infant products, including Handicraft Co., Evenflo Co., Playtex Products Inc., Disney First Years, Gerber and Avent America Inc., asking them to stop using BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and other products.
As of March 6, 2009, at least six of the manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to not use BPA in baby feeding products. Several large retailers, including Walmart and Babies R’ Us, have also agreed not to carry BPA bottles.
Last week, the gas and chemical company, Sunoco, indicated that they will no longer sell BPA to companies unless they guarantee that it will not be used to manufacture food and water containers for children below 3 years of age.