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Steve Blackledge,
U.S. PIRG

Public Health Advocates, Low-Income Advocates Team Up to Deliver Safer Baby Bottles

Neighborhood House partners with WashPIRG and the Washington Toxics Coalition to distribute BPA-free baby bottles to low-income Seattle residents, demand action by state legislature
For Immediate Release

Seattle, WA- A lack of basic protections against the use of unsafe chemicals in consumer products means many parents may be unknowingly exposing their children to the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Public health advocates and advocates for low-income Seattleites partnered today to bring safe products to low income residents at the “Seattle Baby Bottle Swap.” In front of a 20-foot inflatable baby bottle, organizers gave away BPA-free baby bottles and information on safe products, and asked participants to write their legislators about pending legislation to ban BPA in children’s products. The event was held at the Neighborhood House High Point Center, a green built social service and environmental learning center.

“Parents have the right to expect that when they buy products in Washington’s stores, those products are safe and free from toxic chemicals,” stated WashPIRG Consumer Advocate Blair Anundson. “While many companies have switched to BPA-free alternatives, tainted products like baby bottles can still be found in stores.

Ray Li, a representative from Neighborhood House, pointed out that health, the environment, and the issues facing their constituents are deeply interrelated. “While BPA free bottles are, in most cases, the same price as or cheaper than the toxic variety, many of the families we serve are still at a disadvantage when it comes to making healthy choices. Parents who want to switch to BPA free bottles are sometimes unable to afford purchasing a new bottle at all. This is something we can avoid with better safeguards.” Neighborhood House has been focused on integrating human health and the environment into their efforts to assist low-income residents. Their new High Point Center is not only a comfortable space to access resources, but with all of the integrated educational displays and materials, this is a space to learn about making healthy and environmentally conscious decisions.

The bottle swap gave low-income residents free, safe baby bottles and information about where to find safer products, including those not made with BPA. Unfortunately, people in lower-income brackets are more likely than others to be purchasing baby bottles made with BPA according to a recent survey by the Washington Toxics Coalition. The survey found that some dollar stores targeting low-income families only stock bottles made with BPA.

“BPA-free bottles should be available to everyone,” said Anna Davis, field organizer for Washington Toxics Coaltiion. “We're thrilled to help distrubute these bottles, but we need to get BPA out of stores and our children's hands.”

While the chemical industry has been resisting efforts to ban BPA from consumer products, much of the private sector has moved away from producing BPA-laden products. Companies like Green to Grow, Gerber, Evenflo, and Playtex have begun producing safer, BPA-free alternatives to polycarbonate bottles and sippy cups. Scores of other important children’s products, including breast pumps and baby bottle nipples, are made BPA free and are available in stores now.

BPA, which is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, is a hormone disrupting chemical, and can have health effects at extremely low exposure levels. Potential health effects include cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, reproductive failures and hyperactivity.

As advocates with WashPIRG and the Washignton Toxics Coalition pointed out, the only sure way to protect kids from BPA and ease concerned parents is to ban BPA from consumer products. Legislation banning BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups, and other containers passed the Washington State House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin of 95-1 on January 25th (HB 1180). The state Senate passed a similar bill on January 29th (SB 6248), but failed to include a ban on BPA in sports water bottles, which are often used by children and pregnant moms.

“The Legislature should pass the Safe Baby Bottle Act and eliminate BPA in sports water bottles and all products intended for children,” stated Davis.

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