NY's Suffolk County Votes to Ban BPA in Baby BottlesMar 5, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP A unanimous vote by Suffolk County Legislature yesterday is paving the way to implement a bill to ban the controversial, toxic chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) from baby bottles and sippy cups, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
BPA is the highly ubiquitous, estrogenic toxin that is present in a variety of consumer products and which has been found to be harmful to humans, especially to the developing bodies of infants and children. The AP reported that the problem with BPA and young children is that younger kidneys tend to retain the toxic chemical in their bodies longer than those of older children and adults, a serious concern since babies are exposed to BPA from formula packaging, baby bottles, sippy cups, and other plastic products geared to the youngest consumers. The AP said if the ban is approved, this would be the nation’s first such ban on these children’s products.
BPA has been linked to a variety of diseases including an increased risk of diseases or disorders of the brain, reproductive, and immune systems; problems with liver function testing; diabetes and heart disease; interruptions in chemotherapy treatment; and hormonal disturbances. BPA was also linked to serious health problems based on 130 studies conducted in the past 10 years, the Washington Post reported late last year, and newer research found BPA to have negative effects at “very low doses,” lower than the Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) safety standards currently in place.
Meanwhile, the FDA continues to maintain that current BPA exposure levels do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and young children, despite that the agency relied solely on two industry-funded studies for its information, something for which it has long been criticized. The AP noted that after an independent assessment discovered fractures in the agency’s study, it announced late last year it was planning on conducting additional research.
Newsday reported that Humayun Chaudhry, Long Island’s Suffolk County Health Commissioner, said that enforcing the ban would be “a challenge,” saying that consumer complaints about merchants would comprise BPA tracking on Long Island. Newsday also noted that Chaudhry has not yet made a recommendation to County Executive Steve Levy regarding the bill that passed unanimously yesterday.
Legislator Steve Stern (Democrat-Dix Hills) disagrees with Chaudhry, saying the bill would not be difficult to enforce, telling Newsday, "These products are either readily identifiable or you can determine whether these products contain BPA with very little effort." T he AP explained that BPA is in many plastics which bear recycling number "7" and the letters "PC." If passed, the bill includes a $500 fine for offenders, said Newsday, and is upped to $1000 for a second offense, noted the AP.
Urvashi Rangan, a policy analyst for advocacy group Consumers Union, said it would be up to consumers to figure out if baby products are or are not safe, saying, "If you've ever gone into a dollar store, everything looks the same," according to Newsday. Levy, who is planning on conducting a public hearing on March 16 in Hauppauge concerning the bill, is pending the outcome of that hearing before making a decision on whether or not to sign the bill. He has until April 2 to make a decision to sign or veto.
Meanwhile, said Newsday, officials in Suffolk County said they believe the ban to be the first in the nation. Although San Francisco’s board of supervisors implemented a similar ban in 2006, it was rescinded in 2007 over hopes the state would adopt the ban, said Newsday. Now, California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii are considering similar bans and Canada announced its BPA baby bottle ban late last year, said the AP.