May 13, 2009

Score One For the Babies!

Nice work by Alds. Manny Flores & Ed Burke, and by Environment Illinois and Illinois PIRG, on Chicago's new ordinance banning BPA in childrens' products. Very nice to see Chicago leading the nation here. Too bad the Illinois House wasn't part of the solution when the bill came up there last month. How did your State Rep vote? You'll have to ask him or her (and you should!) - the vote was pulled from the official record.

From Environment Illinois:

CHICAGO, IL–Chicago City Council today unanimously passed the nation’s first municipal ordinance to protect children’s health by eliminating the toxic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) from baby bottles and toddler’s sippy cups sold in Chicago.

"We applaud Aldermen Ed Burke and Manny Flores for sponsoring this crucial legislation. With Mother’s Day last Sunday, they’ve given the perfect gift to mothers and the tens-of-thousands of Chicago babies born each year," said Max Muller, program director at Environment Illinois. "The chemical companies that profit from BPA have lobbied furiously to kill these bills, but protecting children from harm prevailed in Chicago."

"Parents shouldn’t have to be chemists to know what’s safe," said Brian Imus, state director of Illinois Public Interest Research Group. "This is the only appropriate response to evidence that a known toxic chemical is leaching from baby products."

Although BPA is a synthetic sex hormone that mimics estrogen, it is used in the epoxy lining of most food cans and hard clear plastic containers, including baby bottles and most toddler’s sippy cups. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that children have the highest levels of BPA, followed by teens and then adults.

Hundreds of studies link low-dose BPA exposure to early onset puberty, hyperactivity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, liver enzyme abnormalities, and breast and prostate cancers.

"I am hopeful that by passing this legislation in Chicago, we can begin a nationwide movement that will inspire other municipal and state jurisdictions to eliminate BPA from food containers in their communities," said Alderman Flores.

Aldermen Burke and Flores are among a growing number of policy makers frustrated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) slow response to evidence of BPA’s harms. In October 2008, Canada confirmed that it is banning BPA from baby bottles. In the United States, BPA bans are pending in Congress and at least a dozen state legislatures. The Chicago ordinance mirrors a pending Illinois bill which is sponsored by Illinois State Representative Elaine Nekritz and State Senator Dan Kotowski.

But so far, only Minnesota (as of last Friday) and Suffolk County, New York have enacted similar bans.

The FDA has said that BPA is safe, but the agency’s position came under attack when it was learned that the only studies FDA considered were funded by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s trade group, and by firms whose clients include BPA manufacturers. The FDA’s own science advisory board criticized the agency’s finding, noting that "the Margins of Safety defined by FDA as 'adequate' are, in fact, not adequate."

"The body of evidence that documents harmful effects of BPA at low doses—doses very similar to what is found in humans—is very compelling when examined as a whole," said Dr. Gail Prins, a physiology professor and BPA researcher who has studied Bisphenol A's effects on the prostate, including its links to prostate cancer. "To ignore this scientific data any longer will be seen as negligence."

On March 12, 2009, Sunoco, one of five BPA makers, wrote that the company now refuses to sell BPA for use in children’s food containers because Sunoco cannot be certain of the compound’s safety.

In February 2008, Environment Illinois, along with public health and environmental groups in nine states, released the report Baby’s Toxic Bottle, which found that baby bottles leached significant amounts of BPA when subjected to tests designed to simulate repeated washings. Attorneys General in Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey joined the groups in calling for baby bottle manufacturers to go BPA-free, and in March 2009, six baby bottle manufacturers announced a phase-out of BPA from the bottles they sell in the United States.

The BPA-Free Kids Act will protect children’s health by ensuring that all baby bottles and sippy cups sold in Chicago are BPA-free. It would also require retailers to post signs notifying parents that these products are BPA-free.

No comments: