Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the Safe Baby Bottle Act
Answers to frequently asked quesitons on the Safe Baby Bottle Act of 2009, a bill to ban bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and other containers.
1. Are the levels of BPA that children are exposed to really harmful?
Children are already exposed to BPA at levels that cause harm in laboratory studies. The National Toxicology Program has expressed concern about brain, behavior, and prostate effects at current exposure levels. NTP's statement is available here.
2. Doesn’t the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say bisphenol A is safe?
The FDA’s assessment was based mainly on a review of very small number of flawed chemical industry-funded studies, not the dozens of independent studies that have found bisphenol A causes harm. In fact, a panel of scientists assembled by the FDA to review its assessment found that the agency ignored many independent studies that link the chemical to health problems. This panel recommended the agency abandon its earlier findings that BPA is safe. FDA has indicated that it will reassess its findings.
3. How does the bill address food and beverage cans?
The bill requires Ecology to conduct an alternatives assessment for food and beverage cans to determine whether a safer alternative is available. Ecology must prioritize beverage and food cans intended primarily for children three and under, such as infant formula and baby food. Once a safer alternative is identified, a ban can only be put in place after an extensive public process, legislative review, and rulemaking.
4. What are the alternatives to BPA for cans?
While the legislation does not ban BPA in any food cans until safer alternatives are identified, we know that some companies have already found alternatives. Eden’s Foods packs its canned beans in lead-free tin covered steel cans coated with a baked-on oleoresinous c-enamel lining that does not contain BPA. Oleoresin is a natural mixture of an oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir. These cans cost 14 percent more than the industry standard cans that do contain BPA. This costs Eden $300,000 more a year.
5. Are BPA-free alternatives more expensive?
Many companies are already making BPA-free alternatives. For baby bottles, BPA-free plastic bottles, as well as glass bottles, are available in stores. A package of three BPA-free baby bottles costs $2.99 at Babies R Us.
For sports water bottles, BPA-free plastic bottles cost about $10 at REI. Both Nalgene and Camelback have stopped using BPA and are using an alternative plastic; aluminum and stainless steel are other affordable alternatives.
6. How does the legislation affect retailers, including second-hand stores?
The legislation exempts retailers, including second-hand stores, from liability for unknowingly selling BPA products. However, retailers who knowingly sell BPA products in violation of the law will be held liable.
7. What are other governments doing?
In 2008, Canada became the first government in the world to conclude BPA is hazardous to human health, and announce plans to ban BPA in baby bottles. Canada is also proposing to develop stringent BPA standards for infant formula cans and to continue assessing BPA in other food cans. View Health Canada's findings here.
In Japan, since the late 1990s, the three major Japanese can manufacturers have voluntarily taken action to greatly reduce BPA in their products. They have been able to reduce the amount of BPA migrating into food to 1 ppb and below. The manufactures are currently making additional changes to further reduce the levels.
8. What is happening in other states?
Many states will consider legislation to eliminate BPA from children’s products in 2009, including Oregon, California, Minnesota, New York, Connecticut, and Maine. However, no state has passed BPA phase out legislation. Washington would once again be leading the way on protecting kids from toxic chemicals.
9. What is happening in Europe?
The European risk assessment suffers from the same flaws as the FDA risk assessment because it relies on the same industry-funded studies. Members of the European Union Parliament are demanding the risk assessment be conducted again.