2008 was the year of Bisphenol A ( BPA ) – you couldn’t go one week without reading another article about BPA in baby bottles. BPA is a chemical linked to developmental, neurological and reproductive defects and is a particular concern in fetuses, infants and children. It’s known to leach under certain conditions, especially high temperatures. This year, the news has slowed down but the momentum to remove the chemical has not.
Late last year, major retailers including Babies ‘R Us, Target and CVS banned baby bottles with BPA from their stores. In March, 6 bottle manufacturers voluntarily banned BPA from their bottles including Avent, Disney First Years, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Playtex and Evenflow.
Unfortunately, baby bottles are not the only way that BPA is entering our bodies. Other products that contain BPA include linings of cans such as baby formula, soda and canned foods. Dental sealants and fillings are also receiving media attention. Last month, a group of scientists met in Germany to reassess BPA. The Milwaukie Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reviewed preliminary drafts of consensus statements derived from that meeting and two statements I found concerning included:
- Newborns have between three and 11 times more BPA in their system than adults.
- Although scientists know that people are exposed to BPA by ingesting it through food and drink, they also know that they must be exposed to the chemical by other means as well. The levels detected in people are too high to be the result of ingestion only.
Canada banned BPA in baby bottles last year but the U.S. and European Union declared the chemical safe. However, since then, counties and states in the U.S. have enacted laws banning BPA. The first law, declared by Suffolk County, New York, banned bisphenol A in baby bottles and other empty storage containers used by children aged 3 years and younger. The city of Chicago is considering a similar ban. Other states considering a bill in 2009:
- State of Illinois – HB2485
- State of Oregon – HB2367
- State of California – SB797
- State of Hawaii – HB796
- State of Maryland – HB15
- State of Massachusetts – HB259
- State of Michigan – HB4522
- State of Minnesota – HF326
- State of Washington – HB1180
We can expect to see more activity this year on the ban of bisphenol A in products not only for children but for adults as well. A bill has also been introduced to the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives banning BPA from all food and beverage containers, however I don’t think we can expect this to move forward much until fall or winter.
To avoid products with bisphenol A:
- check your bottles and sippy cups to make sure they are BPA free – this may involve contacting the manufacturer
- don’t use liquid formula – powdered formula is also in a BPA lined can but the risk is significantly lower than liquid formula
- don’t microwave plastic food containers – this is a rule I use generally, but specifically do not microwave those with a #7 label on the bottom
- limit canned foods and opt for those packaged in cardboard cartons instead of cans – a lot of soups come in this fashion
- replace sports bottles with stainless steel bottles – in the last year, several manufacturers have replaced their sports bottles with a BPA free version
- talk with your dentist before your children get sealants – consider the necessity and ask your dentist to help you find BPA free sealants
- support the campaign to pass the ‘Kid-Safe Chemicals Act‘ – an overhaul of our nation’s chemical law