Six major companies have agreed to stop selling hard-plastic baby bottles containing bisphenol A, the industrial chemical suspected of harming human development. The purveyors of baby-care products – Playtex Products Inc., Gerber, Evenflo Co., Avent America Inc., Dr. Brown and Disney First Years – will no longer will market the shatter-proof polycarbonate bottles and some other baby products in the United States. Polycarbonate is made of bisphenol A, widely used in hundreds of commercial applications, including the inside lining of metal food and drink containers, epoxy resins and polyvinyl chloride plastics.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced the companies’ decisions last month. He and the attorneys general from Delaware and New Jersey wrote to the companies last year, urging them to stop using the chemical, which mimics the hormonal activity of estrogen and can alter the normal workings of genes. Health officials – cautious about possible ill effects – believe that infants and children are at the greatest risk because of their quickly developing bodies and sensitive systems.
As a result of pressure from consumer rights groups and a move toward toxic-free products, some companies have been making bisphenol A-free alternatives, including old-fashioned glass baby bottles. Nalgene, a leader in sales of portable drinking water bottles, discontinued its polycarbonate lines last year. Attorney General Blumenthal has asked for legislation to further restrict the chemical in baby products.
Last year, the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act was passed, banning plastic softeners known as phthalates, from children’s products. A bill to expand the law is expected to be introduced in Congress this year to restrict bisphenol A in children’s products. The industry has argued that bisphenol A levels in humans are too low to cause damage. They claim industry studies have found that the chemical causes no damage to laboratory animals or humans. But more than 150 government and academic-sponsored studies have found a series of development problems even at low exposures. Studies in laboratory animals indicate that even small amounts of bisphenol A can damage brain and reproductive systems, alter mammary and prostate glands and lead to heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
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