AUTHOR: ASSEMBLYMEMBER BUTLER
PRINCIPAL CO-AUTHOR: SENATOR PAVLEY
Millions of babies in California are being exposed daily to the harmful toxin bisphenol A (BPA). This hormone-disrupting chemical is used in some baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula, and baby food containers. While some manufacturers have already removed this substance from their products, it is still found in many others. AB 1319 will help protect children from this dangerous chemical by restricting the use of BPA in certain baby products.
Bisphenol A (BPA) was discovered to be a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. Today it is widely used in certain kinds of plastics and epoxy resins, including those commonly found in baby bottles and used to line metal infant formula cans. Research by the Centers for Disease Control has found that 93% of Americans tested have BPA in their bodies, and children have higher levels than adults. According to the National Institutes of Health, the main way people are exposed to BPA is due to the chemical leaching from containers into food and drink. Studies by the Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, and others have documented that BPA leaches into canned infant formula and out of polycarbonate baby bottles.
BPA is a known hormone disruptor, and studies have firmly established that infants and children are at the greatest risk of harm. The National Institutes of Health are concerned that BPA exposure in infants may lead to problems with brain development and behavior, early puberty, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
More than 10 recent human studies show that BPA is toxic at current levels of exposure, with links to heart disease, diabetes, female fertility, male fertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and toddler behavior.
Out of concern for children’s safety, many countries and states have banned BPA in baby bottles, including: Canada, the European Union, Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, and New York. Now China is also poised to ban BPA in baby bottles. Vermont and Connecticut have banned BPA in formula, and Canada is restricting the use of BPA in formula containers. In 2011, 23 states have introduced bills to ban BPA in baby products.
Many other countries have taken action on BPA:
- Canada: Banned BPA in baby bottles and is taking action on BPA in formula
- European Union: Banned BPA in baby bottles
- Denmark: Banned BPA in baby bottles
- France: Banned BPA in baby bottles
- China: Proposed ban on BPA in baby bottles
- Japan: In 1997 manufacturers reduced BPA leaching into canned food and beverages per government request
- Germany: Federal Environment Agency has declared need for action on BPA
Affordable alternatives are already on the market
- Baby bottles and sippy cups: The majority of the baby bottles on the market are now BPA-free
- Powdered infant formula: Studies have shown that BPA is generally not found in powdered formula
- Liquid infant formula: All major formula companies sell formula in alternative packaging
We cannot wait for the Green Chemistry Program or the FDA to take action
- Green chemistry regulations have been delayed and no funding stream has been established for the program
- Each year of delay will unnecessarily expose the 550,000 babies born in California every year to BPA
- The bill provides that if the Green Chemistry program takes an action on BPA, that action supersedes AB 1319
People of Color/Low income communities
- Access: Some big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Babies-R-Us sell BPA-free baby products, but not all families can easily access these stores. As a consequence, children in communities that rely on dollar stores and small corner markets for infant formula and baby products may be at higher risk for BPA exposure.
- Exposure: Statistics show significant disparities in breastfeeding rates by race and income—known as the “milk gap.” Poorer women and women of color have lower rates of breastfeeding than their more affluent and white counterparts. Research also uncovered a relationship between household income and BPA exposure, showing that people with the highest BPA exposure were from the lowest income groups.
- Information: Because information about BPA is mostly in English, and because many healthcare providers, social workers and community health workers are not informed on the issue, there is a lack of knowledge in low-income communities about BPA-related health concerns.
- Cumulative Exposures: Low-income children and children of color are more likely to live in the most polluted communities, thus increasing their overall exposure to toxic chemicals. Reducing their exposure to BPA through baby bottles and food containers is a small but important step toward reducing this toxic burden.