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California BPA Ban Voted Down

Sep 15, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

The California bill to ban bisphenol A—BPA—in baby bottles, sippy cups, and food containers that, twice, did not meet the required 41 votes, failed again and is being put off until next year. Although the bill, which narrowly passed in the state Senate and received a majority of votes both times in the California Assembly, simply did not muster the votes needed to pass.

PlasticsNews said that the bill fell six votes short for passage and was moved to an inactive file on September 11 for reconsideration in 2010. The request to move the bill was made by Assembly Majority Leader, Albert Torrico (Democrat-Fremont), said PlasticsNews.

The ban passed the Senate on June 2 with a 21-16 vote, said PlasticsNews and a majority vote of 35-31 twice in the Assembly on September.
BPA has been connected to a wide variety of adverse effects, including increased risks of brain, reproductive, cardiac, and immune system diseases and disorders; problems with liver function testing; interruptions in chemotherapy treatment; links with serious health problems. Studies have overwhelmingly found BPA to have negative effects at doses lower than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) current standards; retention in the body longer than was previously believed; leeching into liquids being held in containers regardless of the containers’ temperature; and longer lasting damage, which can be passed to future generations.

Industry believes that scientists and consumer advocates are exaggerating the adverse effects of the plastic-hardening, estrogenic chemical, continually citing two industry studies. But, points out the LA Times, previously, over 200 peer-reviewed studies have linked BPA to health problems.

Opponents claim the California bill would adversely affect California’s 2008 green chemistry law that prioritizes substances requiring restriction or banning, said the LA Times, previously. The bill, had it passed, would have banned the production, sale, and distribution of “liquid, food or beverage … in a bottle or cup that contains more than parts per billion of BPA and is intended by use by children three or younger,” said PlasticsNews, adding that the bill would also have banned BPA “as a liner in powdered infant formula cans, but not liquid infant formula cans.”

“It is a shame that we have failed to protect our most vulnerable citizens” from BPA, said Senator Fran Pavley (Democrat-Santa Monica), referring to the effects of BPA on children, said PlasticsNews. Pavley is the bill’s co-sponsor and had called for a total BPA ban. That ban was amended in the Assembly to allow California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control additional time to determine if the chemical should be regulated under the green chemistry law, reported the LA Times, previously.

Connecticut, effective October 1, 2011; Minnesota, effective January 1, 2010; Chicago, Illinois, effective January 31, 2010; and Suffolk County, New York, already effective this July, have banned the sale of polycarbonate baby bottles, food containers, and cups containing the toxin, reported PlasticsNews. Limited BPA bans are in place in Schenectady County in upstate New York—a similar measure was recently passed by Albany County legislators and takes effect January 1. Twenty-four states have bills in the works to restrict the chemical; Canada was the first country to announce plans to ban BPA, calling it a toxin. The Connecticut ban, noted PlasticsNews, applies to infant formula cans and reusable food and beverage containers, as well.

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