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FDA to Ban BPA from Baby Bottles; Plan Falls Short of Needed Protections: Scientists

Common Dreams staff

(Photo: Mitch Hrdlicka/Getty Images)

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) is now officially banned from the manufacturing of baby bottles and sippy cups -- a move that researchers say still falls short of sufficient regulation. Environmental groups say more should be done to ban BPA from all consumer products including infant formula and food and beverage packaging, which are not included under the new rules.

The F.D.A. said that its decision was a response to a request by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association, that rules allowing BPA in those products be phased out, in part to boost "consumer confidence."

The Environmental Working Group says the move is purely cosmetic, as most companies have already stopped using BPA for baby bottles and sippy cups due to public pressure. Allowing BPA to go unchallenged in products it is actually still used in is a blow to the anti-BPA fight.

“Once again, the FDA has come so late to the party that the public and the marketplace have already left,” said Jason Rano, Director of Government Affairs for EWG. “If the agency truly wants to prevent people from being exposed to this toxic chemical associated with a variety of serious and chronic conditions it should ban its use in cans of infant formula, food and beverages."

BPA is a synthetic estrogen that scientists say can disrupt the hormone system, interfere with development of the reproductive and nervous systems in babies and young children, and is likely carcinogenic.

In the US, BPA is an almost ubiquitous substance found in most food packaging, water bottles, and dental sealants. Roughly 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their urine, due to exposure. Traces have also been found in breast milk, the blood of pregnant women and umbilical cord blood.

“This is only a baby step in the fight to eradicate BPA. To truly protect the public, FDA needs to ban BPA from all food packaging. This half-hearted action—taken only after consumers shifted away from BPA in children’s products — is inadequate. FDA continues to dodge the bigger questions of BPA’s safety,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at Natural Resources Defense Council.

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