RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Consumer demand for BPA-free baby bottles has already led many manufacturers, retailers, and even state and city governments to ban the toxic chemical in products marketed to children. Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the government agency that dragged its feet in banning BPA for years—despite convincing evidence that the chemical is not safe— is reportedly moving forward with an official federal ban on the chemical's use in baby bottles and children's sippy cups. So why now? The BPA bottle ban rumblings come just days after the American Chemistry Council, a trade group representing the chemical industry, asked FDA to ban BPA in bottles only.
While that's certainly a step in the right direction, it doesn't come close to controlling the damage that BPA can inflict on children. The fact that it's still allowed to be used in baby food containers and in canned food consumed by pregnant women means that infants and babies will still be exposed.
"This is a bit of damage control being done. The American Chemical Society is saying that the FDA should ban it in baby bottles, but it's currently not in most baby bottles," explains BPA expert Laura Vandenberg, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts University in Massachusetts. (Though she adds that baby bottles sold at dollar stores still often contain the chemical.) "Greenwashing is a great way to describe what is going on—it's an attempt to look like they're protecting consumers, when in fact consumers are being exposed to dozens of other BPA sources."
Indeed, the bottle ban (which is compelling because who wants to think about babies slurping down BPA?) may actually dissuade legislators from tackling a more comprehensive ban of major sources of BPA exposure, most likely food cans, cash-register receipts, recycled paper (contaminated with BPA-laden receipts during the recycling process), and plastic medical devices such as replacement joints and tubing, Vandenberg says.
"Advocates think it's a big step forward, but the bottle ban is just using the underlying current of fear to make it look like a change has happened, when in fact no change has happened," Vandenberg says. "It's putting a kink in changing where real human exposures are coming from."
Published on: October 14, 2011
Updated on: October 16, 2011