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BPA Tainted Baby Bottles Prompt Lawsuit Against Playtex Products

May 29, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP An Arkansas woman has filed a federal lawsuit against Playtex Products, accusing the baby bottle maker of using bisphenol A—BPA—in its products.  The lawsuit against Playtex seeks a nationwide class action status to represent what it says are thousands of people who bought plastic bottles containing BPA and also claims that Playtex failed to adequately disclose that its plastic bottle products are formulated using BPA.

BPA is a fairly ubiquitous chemical that mimics the hormone, estrogen, and is used in polycarbonate plastic products, including baby bottles and metal can coatings and could be linked to a range of hormonal problems.  In the lab, BPA is linked to sex-hormone-imbalances, including breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, miscarriage, low sperm count, and immune-system changes.

According to a recent government report developed by a group of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Institutes of Health (NIH), very low doses of BPA cause profound effects on laboratory animals, particularly during pregnancy and infancy and BPA can permanently rewire genetic programming before birth.  The federal National Toxicology Program said experiments on rats found precancerous tumors, urinary tract problems, and early puberty when animals were fed or injected with low doses of BPA.  The report claims that while such studies provide “limited evidence” of BPA’s risks, the effects on humans “cannot be dismissed.”  BPA is found in dental sealants, food and baby formula can liners, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses, and hundreds of household and consumer goods.  Over 90 percent of Americans are exposed to BPA, according to the CDC and BPA has been found in the urine of 95% of Americans tested.

Meanwhile, last month, what is believed to be the first consumer class action suit over BPA in consumer products was filed against Nalge Nunc International Corporation.  Lani Felix-Lozano claims Nalge Nunc, knew, but minimized risks that BPA in its Nalgene sports bottles could leach into the bottles' contents and sicken consumers.    The suit accuses Nalge Nunc of continuing to state that BPA is safe despite dozens of studies linking BPA to hormone disruptions, infertility, early puberty, and cancer.  Felix-Lozano said she bought the company's reusable containers for herself and her two daughters, now 11 and 13, for several years.  "They address the issue of BPA in their bottles (on their Web site); they cite the (Food and Drug Administration) stating that they see no problem with it.  The problem is they didn't cite the many other studies that show there is a risk and there is a great concern about the issue," said Felix-Lozano’s attorney.

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats introduced a bill to ban BPA from all products made for infants and young children and that would direct the CDC to study BPA risks to children and adults.  "There have been enough warning signs about the dangers of this chemical that we cannot sit idly by and continue to allow vulnerable children and infants to be exposed," said Senator Charles E. Schumer (Democrat-New York).

A Playtex spokeswoman cited a general statement by the company that says U.S. and worldwide regulatory bodies continue to deem BPA safe.

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