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Lawmakers Introduce BPA Ban

May 1, 2008

Senate Democrats just introduced a bill to ban bispherol A—BPA—the ubiquitous estrogen-imitating chemical found in plastics from all products made for infants and young.  The bill would direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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).  Schumer’s bill was co-sponsored by senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), Richard J. Durbin (Illinois), Dianne Feinstein (California), John F. Kerry (Massachusetts), and Robert Menendez (New Jersey).

Schumer wants CDC involvement because of conflicting scientific studies.  A growing body of new studies link BPA to prostate and breast cancers, diabetes, behavioral disorders, and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.  The chemical industry and agencies that regulate the use of BPA—the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—defend BPA and deem it safe.  Over 100 studies performed by government scientists and university laboratories found health concerns associated with BPA; industry-funded studies say it is safe.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating the FDA's handling of BPA.

The National Toxicology Program—part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)— Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction was the first federal agency to raise concerns about the effect of BPA on fetuses, infants, and children and found BPA risk and exposure causes neural and behavioral effects in children and said experiments on rats found precancerous tumors, urinary tract problems, and early puberty when animals were fed or injected with low BPA doses.  "The report earlier this month was an eye-opener," Schumer said.  "Now we want to get one final, indisputable ruling, once and for all, on the effects of BPA on adults and pregnant women in particular."

Chairman John D. Dingell (Democrat-Michigan) expressed concern that the FDA based its safety rating on two studies funded by the chemical industry and expanded his investigation to include the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said the CPSC agrees with the FDA that BPA is safe and it believes BPA poses the greatest health risk when in contact with food and drink and not in the types of products overseen by the CPSC.  The CPSC studied rattles, teething rings, and pacifiers in 2002 and found BPA in five of 133 plastics sample, Vallese said.  It has not studied whether the chemical is present in other products it regulates, she said.

BPA has been in commercial use since the 1950s and is found in a wide variety of everyday items including water bottles, food and drink packaging, food can linings, dental sealants, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses, and automobiles.  One federal study estimated the chemical is found in the urine of 93 percent of the population and another places the figure at 95 percent.  According to the CDC, over 90 percent of Americans are exposed to BPA.


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