Three states have run out of patience when it comes to potentially dangerous plastic components in baby bottles.
Eleven makers of plastic baby bottles have received urgent letters from the Attorneys General of Delaware, New Jersey and Connecticut, urging them to stop using Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby products.
The letters cite studies linking the hormone disruptor to the early onset of puberty, cancer, and diabetes even as the federal government is preparing a report on the safety of BPA.
Connecticut’s AG Richard Blumenthal says in the letter as reported by the Hartford Courant, "I am alarmed by recent studies confirming that BPA leaches from these products into the foods they hold. The preventable release of a toxic chemical directly into the food we eat is unconscionable."
Bisphenol A is compound that hardens plastic and is used in thousands of everyday consumer items including the lining of food cans, food containers, DVD cases, shower curtains, and baby bottles.
A British study says BPA is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities. It may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy in fighting breast cancer. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
BPA, is a known estrogen disruptor, meaning it can mimic the hormonal activity in animals and humans. Several billion pounds are produced every year and it’s been found in the urine of an estimated 93 percent of Americans.
The FDA is preparing a new statement on BPA that should be issued later this month. Previously the agency has said that BPA is safe. That was August. By September an FDA advisory panel said there evidence that raises concern about the impact of BPA on children’s health.
Baby products containing BPA include Energizer Holding Inc.’s Playtex Infant Care. Playtex has reportedly already replaced the chemical in bottles.
In the U.S., labels are not required to tell consumers whether a plastic contains bisphenol A, but the Canadian government decided in April 2008 that it would label BPA as a toxic chemical and would ban the import, sale, and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles containing the chemical.
Parents who want to exert caution can instead choose glass bottles over plastic.
In June, a lawsuit was filed by four Ohio parents against five baby bottle makers who use the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in their products despite knowing the plastic was correlated to certain health problems. The five companies named in the lawsuit are: Ohio-based Evenflo; Illinois-based Avent America Inc.; Missouri-based Handicraft Co.; Connecticut-based Playtex Products Inc; and the Swiss company Gerber Novartis.
80,000 chemicals are registered for use in the U.S. with more than 2,000 new ones introduced every year. More than six billion pounds of bisphenol are produced in the U.S. each year by Dow Chemical, Bayer AG and others. All fall under the watch of the National Toxicology Program.
The American Chemistry Council stresses that studies from animals provide “limited and inconclusive evidence”.
Bisphenol A or BPA has been a suspected endocrine disruptor since pioneer zoologist, Theo Colburn began following the chemical train in her landmark book, Our Stolen Future (Dutton, 1996; Plume 1997), where she explored the many examples of plasticizers acting as a synthetic form of estrogen that disrupt the normal sexual development among wildlife.
How To Avoid It
The National Toxicology Program of Health and Human Services issues the following warnings:
- Do not microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. They may break down from overuse and release BPA. BPA containing containers have a #7 on the bottom within the recycle symbol, a triangle with arrows.
- Reduce the use of canned foods especially acidic foods such s tomatos that can cause BPA to leach into the food. Opt instead for soups in the “brick” cardboard containers or safer layers of aluminum and polyethylene plastic (Labeled #2) in the recycle logo.
- Switch to glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, especially for hot food or liquids.
- Use baby bottles that are BPA free or glass. #