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Steve Blackledge,
U.S. PIRG

Legislation Banning Hormone-Disrupting Chemical in Baby Bottles Introduced

For Immediate Release

Olympia, WA - Doctors, nurses, scientists, children's advocates, parents, and environmental groups have joined together to urge passage of state legislation to eliminate the toxic hormone disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles, sippy cups, and other children's food containers. The Safe Baby Bottle Act of 2009, sponsored by Representative Mary Lou Dickerson (D-36) and Senator Karen Keiser (D-33), will have its first public hearing today in the House Environmental Health Committee at 1:30 PM in House Hearing Room C, John L. O'Brien Building, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.

The legislation aims to reduce children's exposures by eliminating BPA from products they eat and drink out of every day. BPA is a synthetic sex hormone that research links to health effects including cancer, miscarriage, obesity, reproductive problems, and hyperactivity. It is used in polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and other containers, as well as in food can linings such as for infant formula.

"Putting cancer-causing chemicals in baby bottles sounds like a horror movie, but it happens every day and will continue to happen until manufacturers eliminate BPA from products children use," said Representative Mary Lou Dickerson.

"BPA is a huge concern because research shows it may cause harm at the levels many kids are already exposed to," said Erika Schreder, staff scientist for the Washington Toxics Coalition. "We need to protect the littlest consumers by getting it out of baby bottles. The Safe Baby Bottle Act is a reasonable approach to protecting children's health."

Many health groups are concerned about children's exposures to toxic chemicals, including the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Washington State Nurses Association, and the Washington State Association of Occupational Health Nurses, all of whom have endorsed the legislation.

"Growing children are particularly at risk to chemicals in their environment because they face greater exposure per pound of body weight and are physiologically more susceptible to them," said Dr. Barry Lawson, a neonatologist and former president of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Removing BPA from baby bottles and other products children use just makes sense."

Consumer groups also support the legislation, noting that BPA-free alternatives are readily available and affordable.  "Fortunately, many BPA-free products are already on the market," said Blair Anundson, WashPIRG Consumer Advocate. The bill is a common-sense approach because it focuses on products, like baby bottles, where responsible manufacturers have started to phase out of BPA already."

Major companies including Nalgene, Playtex, and Eden Foods have switched to BPA-free plastics, while other companies are offering safer options such as glass or stainless steel. Wal-Mart, Safeway, and Toys "R" Us have also pledged to stop selling certain children's products containing BPA.

The Safe Baby Bottle Bill of 2009 does the following:

    * Protects children's health by prohibiting the use of BPA in baby bottles and children's food containers. The bill also prohibits the sale of sports water bottles containing BPA.

    * Ensures other harmful chemicals are not used as a substitute for BPA in baby bottles and children's food and beverage containers. 

    * Allows further state action on food containers containing BPA if safer alternatives are available by charging the Department of Ecology with studying whether safer alternatives to BPA exist for use in all food and beverage containers, such as for the linings in canned foods.  If Ecology determines safer alternatives exist for a particular product, it may adopt rules banning BPA in that product.

If the bill passes this session, 2009 could mark the third year in a row that the Washington State Legislature has passed cutting-edge policies to protect children's health. In 2007, the legislature passed the first ever ban on toxic flame retardants and, in 2008, passed the nation's toughest chemical standards for toys.

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