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Three States Ask 11 Baby Product Companies to Ban BPA

Oct 14, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Despite that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) continues to deem bisphenol A (BPA) safe, some manufacturers have said they would make BPA-free baby bottles and, now, three attorneys general have become involved, according to a recent Associated Press (AP) report.  The attorneys general from Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware just sent letters to 11 baby bottle and formula container manufacturers, asking them to ban BPA from their processes saying that the toxic chemical is potentially harmful to infants.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal criticized the FDA for declining to act after a study last month drew a possible link to BPA and risks of heart disease and diabetes, as well as liver enzyme disturbances.  Researchers said the study provided the first scientific evidence that adults with higher BPA levels were likelier to develop these  diseases.  FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said the agency is continuing to evaluate its risk assessment. "Unfortunately the federal agency, the Federal Food and Drug Administration, has been asleep at the switch, in fact resistant to respecting the scientific evidence that grave harm can result in use of this product," Blumenthal said.

Despite continuing and mounting evidence that BPA poses a danger to humans, the FDA continues to maintain and defend its safety.  "Right now, our tentative conclusion is that it's safe, so we're not recommending any change in habits," said Laura Tarantino, head of the FDA's office of food additive safety.  Unfortunately, the FDA seems to be listening to two controversial industry studies and refuses to heed warnings issued by nonindustry scientists.

BPA is used extensively in food and drink containers and baby bottles; is found in drinking water, dental sealants, Tupperware, epoxy resins, and household dust; and can be found in the systems of nearly every American.  In recent months, pressure has been growing for government and corporate action, partly because BPA is so ubiquitous it is nearly impossible to avoid and is one of the world's highest production volume chemicals, with over 6.4 billion pounds produced in 2003 and annual increases in demand of between six-10 percent yearly.  But, the FDA says the BPA exposure levels are too low to pose a health risk, even for infants and children. Other scientists, however, say BPA has been shown to affect the human body even at low levels.

Most recently, researchers found that BPA reduces the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments and some research has linked BPA to obesity.  Also, the federal National Toxicology Program reported BPA may affect the development of the brains and prostate glands of fetuses and young children. 

In the letters, Blumenthal cites studies that indicate BPA can attach to food in heated containers, reports the AP. "The preventable release of a toxic chemical directly into the food we eat is unconscionable and intolerable," he wrote.  Letters were sent to baby bottle manufacturers Avent America Inc., Disney First Years, Gerber, Handicraft Co., Playtex Products Inc., and Evenflo Co., and formula makers Abbott, Mead Johnson, PBM Products, Nature's One, and Wyeth.  "Unfortunately the FDA has refused to do anything about it," Blumenthal said Monday. "We're asking the 11 manufacturers to do so voluntarily."

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