For Immediate Release 11/10/2009
Bill Would Ban Toxic Chemical in Children’s Bottles, Cups
Sen. Lassa’s Proposal Receives Hearing in State Senate
Madison —The BPA-Free Kids Act, a bill authored by State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) that would ban the manufacture and wholesale in Wisconsin of bisphenol-A (BPA) in children’s bottles and cups, received a public hearing in the State Senate today.
The Senate Committee on Consumer Protection heard from medical experts that the commonly-used chemical can have serious effects on the development of young children.
“By banning BPA in empty baby bottles and sippy cups for children 5 years old and younger, we can help to protect kids from the harmful effect of bisphenol-A in the most important years of their brain development.” Lassa told the committee.
BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical commonly found in polycarbonate (clear) plastic products, including baby bottles, cups, and other children’s products. The chemical can leach from containers into beverages. Hundreds of scientific studies have shown that BPA is harmful, causing breast cancer, testicular cancer, diabetes, hyperactivity, obesity, low sperm counts, miscarriage and a host of other reproductive failures in laboratory animals. Scientists are especially concerned about the impact of BPA on the development of infants and young children.
“While there has been debate over the health risks associated with BPA, we believe there is adequate evidence to view the chemical as a probable health risk, especially to young children, “ said Eric Ostermann, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Public Health Association. “The children of Wisconsin deserve protection from what several scientific studies have found to be a toxic chemical.”
The BPA-Free Kids Act prohibits the manufacture or sale at the wholesale or retail level of children’s bottles or cups that contain BPA and requires that manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers clearly label children’s bottles and cups as BPA free. The legislation provides the same penalties for these manufacturers, wholesalers as those in Wisconsin’s current Hazardous Substances Act: a fine up to $5,000, up to one year in jail, or both. Retailers who fail to comply would face fines of $50 to $200. The bill allows a 50 percent surcharge from the fines that the state would collect from negligent manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to be used for the administration of the program.
“This bill is about protecting children,” said Bruce Speight, state director of WISPIRG, a consumer advocacy group that testified before the committee. “Toxic chemicals have no place being in children’s products, and parents should not have to be chemists to know what products are safe for their kids. Wisconsin should take action to protect our kids from BPA.”
Canada, Minnesota, Connecticut, Chicago, and Suffolk County, New York have similar bans in effect. A BPA ban has also been passed by the California state Senate and is moving to the Assembly. Ten other states are considering bans, and a federal proposal that would ban BPA in all food products has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. Several manufacturers have announced plans to stop using the chemical, and many retailers have pulled products containing BPA from their shelves.
Lassa said the state law is necessary because the federal government has failed to protect kids from BPA. Despite overwhelming evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled in September 2008 that BPA is safe. Scientific uproar over the ruling caused the FDA to establish an advisory committee to review the process. In October, the FDA’s Advisory Committee found that its scientists had relied on studies sponsored by the American Plastics Council while ignoring independent scientific studies that showed the chemical caused harm, and recommended that the agency reopen its review of the chemical. A current Consumer Reports article recommends that manufacturers and government agencies act to eliminate the use of BPA.
“Unfortunately, the federal government’s history of inaction on BPA offers no assurance that strong action is forthcoming from the FDA,” Lassa said. “Wisconsin has a proud progressive history in promoting the safety and wellbeing of its residents. This legislation will help to protect the youngest members of our society, our children, from this harmful chemical.”