Bills which would see Bisphenol A and perfluorochemicals banned from products in the state of California have passed the state Senate and all required Assembly committees.
The legislation sponsored by Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organisation, would ban Bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles and children's cups through bill SB 1713 and would ensure food products are free from perfluorochemicals (PFCs) through bill SB 1313.
BPA is used to soften plastic and is an 'endocrine disrupter', in other words it interferes with hormones in the human body. PFCs are Teflon-like chemicals which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
Concerned parents have made their feelings known about these chemicals and their efforts have paid off with California state politicians voting to pass the bills in the Senate and Assembly committees. In the coming weeks the bills will go to the full Assembly. If passed California would become the first state in the US to outlaw the use of these toxic chemicals.
EWG says that the chemical industry is waging an all-out lobbying war to get the bills thrown out or at least water them down so they are essentially worthless. The group reports that a staff member of the state Senator that authored the PFCs bill counted 17 industry lobbyists actively working against SB 1313.
The chemical industry claims that banning BPA and PFCs would result in the loss of many jobs in California and increase the cost of food for lower-income families. In reality, non-toxic substitutes for these chemicals are available and widely used, and would actually help all Californian families by taking poisonous chemicals out of their food and products they eat and drink with.
Other good news is that a number of retailers aren't waiting for legislation and are taking the lead by removing BPA-containing products aimed at infants and children from their shelves. Meanwhile, Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement announced in April that Canada intends to ban the import, sale and advertising on baby bottles containing BPA.
Facts about Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is a toxic 'plasticiser' found in polycarbonate plastic and the lining of food cans. There have been concerns about the safety of this chemical for as long as it has been around. In April of 2008, the National Toxicology Program reported that due to it mimicking the effects of estrogen and other hormones exposure to BPA during pregnancy and childhood could impact the developing breast and prostate, hasten puberty, and affect behavior in children.
How to reduce exposure to Bisphenol A:
- Avoid canned foods. BPA leaches out of the lining of cans and into the food within - you're therefore swallowing a dose of BPA along with your lunch every time you eat canned foods. It is particularly important to avoid canned soup, pasta, and infant formula, especially when pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Avoid polycarbonate plastic. Hard, translucent plastic marked #7 is probably polycarbonate, which leaches BPA, especially when heated. Microwaving polycarbonate water bottles is therefore a bad idea. Replace your polycarbonate water bottles with stainless steel, ceramic or glass.
- If you're formula feeding your infant, consider using powdered formulas packaged in non-steel cans. Also, choose baby bottles made from glass or specially-marked plastics that don't leach BPA (like polypropylene or polyethylene).
Facts about Perfluorochemicals
Perfluorinated chemicals are widely-used as water, grease and stain repellents. You will no doubt recognise some of them such as Teflon, Scotchgard, Stainmaster and Gore-Tex. They are commonly found in carpets and on clothes, on fast-food wrappers, and on the inner lining of pet food bags. PFCs pollute water, persist in the environment, and remain in the human body for years.
PFCs are most strongly associated with causing cancer but may also be involved with reproductive problems, birth and developmental defects, and immune system suppression.
How to reduce exposure to perfluorochemicals:
- Say no to stain treatments on new carpets and furniture. Seek out products that haven't been pre-treated.
- Avoid Teflon or Scotchgard tags on clothes. Also avoid garments labeled stain- or water-repellent.
- Avoid non-stick pans. The PFC coating invariably ends up in your food. Opt for stainless steel or cast iron instead.
- Reduce consumption of fast food and greasy packaged foods. These often come in PFC treated wrappers.
- Check product labels. Some personal care products contain PFCs. Check ingredient labels for anything beginning with perfluoro.
For more information on BFA and PFCs as well as the California bills visit Environmental Working Group