Public health officials in Massachusetts are proposing a statewide ban on Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and children's sippy cups due to health concerns about the chemical.
The ban would prohibit any type of reusable children's food or beverage containers that contain the toxic substance from being made or sold in the state.
BPA is widely used in many kinds of food containers — including the linings of steel and aluminum cans — and has been linked to increased risks of cancer, chromosome disorders and brain abnormalities such as ADHD. The chemical is most dangerous to fetuses, infants and young children, whose neurological and endocrine systems are still developing.
"The severity and scope of health problems that have been associated with this chemical make it advisable for parents to avoid exposing their children to BPA," said Geoff Wilkinson, a senior policy adviser at the state Department of Public Health.
The activist group Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow criticized the proposed ban. The group says it does not provide enough of a safeguard for children because it does not include infant formula containers and baby food packaging. And some industry officials have said a statewide ban would be premature until additional research on the chemical is conducted.
Some studies have found that BPA, which can leach out of its packaging into food and liquids, is present in the urine of 93 percent of the U.S. population.
In January, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that BPA be regulated more robustly, and several other countries, including Canada and Denmark, already have precautionary bans on the chemical. In the U.S. last year, several large manufacturers and retailers, including Playtex, Gerber, Evenflo, Wal-Mart, CVS and Target, announced plans to stop selling baby bottles made with BPA.
BPA is also found in dental sealants, toys, medical devices, cell phones, laptop computers, DVDs, CDs, and eyeglasses, among other products.
Public hearings on the proposed ban in Massachusetts will begin next month and a final decision is expected as early as September.
This program aired on May 12, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.