HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Plastic Bottles/BPA Update

The New York Times updates the recent concern Congress and the Canadian government have shown over the use of BPA (bisphenol-A) in many plastic children's items - including baby bottles and other products that children put in their mouths.  Ian Austin provides this information,

The Canadian government moved Friday to ban polycarbonate infant bottles, the most popular variety on the market, after it officially declared one of their chemical ingredients toxic.  The action, by the departments of health and environment, is the first taken by any government against bisphenol-a, or BPA, a widely used chemical that mimics a human hormone. It has induced long-term changes in animals exposed to it through tests.

Also on Friday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said he intended to introduce on Monday a bill that would ban many uses of BPA-related plastics. It would prohibit them in all children’s products, including nonfood items they may put in their mouths, as well as in any product used to contain food or beverages. . . .

But in Washington, Steven G. Hentges, the head of the American Chemical Council’s polycarbonate group, told reporters in a teleconference: “We do not think that bans on bisphenol-a are based on science.”  Shannon Jenest, a spokeswoman for Philips Avent, which makes bottles from polycarbonate and other materials, said she “wouldn’t see us challenging” the Canadian health department. . . .

Most of Canada’s major retailers, including the Canadian units of Wal-Mart and Sears, have rushed to remove food-related BPA products from their stores. The country’s largest druggist, Shoppers Drug Mart, took the step at its 1,080 stores on Friday.

Senator Schumer said in an interview that he was prompted to act by the Canadian announcement and a report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services  this week, which endorsed a scientific panel’s finding that there was “some concern” about the health effects of the chemical.   “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he said. “There are alternatives.” Senator Schumer added that his bill would give industry a substantial amount of time to switch to other plastics.

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