Schumer Seeks To Ban Potentially Toxic Chemical In Plastic Baby Bottles, Water Bottles

U.S. Study Released This Week Found 'Bisphenol-A' May Pose Dangers To Human Development and Reproduction Wal-Mart Announced It Is Pulling All Products Containing The Chemical From Its Shelves; Nalgene To Discontinue Line Of Water Bottles Using It Schumer Calls On FDA To Explain Earlier Report That Declared Chemical Safe

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (DNY) announced on Friday that he will introduce legislation banning a potentially hazardous chemical, known as BisphenolA, in all children's products  and "food contact" consumer products, like water bottles. Additionally, the legislation will mandate a public health campaign to educate expecting mothers on the risks of using "food contact" consumer products before a ban goes into effect. This week, a U.S. government study revealed that BisphenolA could pose major health risks. The study surfaced amid reports that Canadian health officials are reportedly set to declare the chemicalwhich is prevalent in water bottles and infant formula bottlesas toxic. Major U.S. retailers such as WalMart are already pulling products containing BisphenolA (BPA) from their shelves, and the popular bottlemaker Nalgene said it will discontinue production of its line of bottles that rely on the substance and recall BPAaffected products already in stores.

"There have been enough warning signs about the dangers of this chemical that we cannot wait to act. The cost of not banning BisphenolA outweighs the cost of banning it," Schumer said. "If there is any serious risk at all posed by this chemical, it is simply unacceptable to allow Americans, especially vulnerable infants, to come into contact with it. Nalgene has taken an appropriate step, and now we want to ensure that other manufacturers take the same responsible approach." 

The federal government's report this week found that BPA is potentially dangerous to human development and reproduction.  The  finding by the National Toxicology Program, a division of the Health and Human Services Department, contradicted a previous study utilized by an FDA panel in November that found minimal concern related to BPA. It minimized linkages between the substance and potential prostate and breast problems or developmental problems for young children who were exposed to the chemical in the womb. In the wake of the new report, Schumer is also calling for the FDA to reconsider its earlier ruling that the chemical is safe for all. He will be sending a letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach asking him to reconsider the FDA's position that BPA has not been found to be harmful.  


"The FDA needs to explain its initial finding and come clean about the study's methodology," Schumer said.  "At best, the FDA gave Americans a false sense of comfort about a questionable substance. At worst, they put millions of Americans directly at risk."   


BPA is used to make plastics clear and shatterresistant, and is commonly found in water bottles, food containers, baby bottles, some dental fillings and the coatings for the inside of cans containing foods.  While BPA has earned approval by the FDA for what are called "food contact" consumer products, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) research has shown that 95% of tested Americans have BPA levels at or above those found to cause abnormalities in animals. 


Since 1997, over 100 published studies have documented adverse effects in animals caused by exposure to low levels of BPA. Lab animals exposed to BPA have been found to be more likely to have miscarriages, prostate problems and cancers. Studies also link BPA to obesity, infertility and behavioral changes in test animals.  A government panel that reviewed the safety of BPA was found to rely on studies that found no harm that were largely paid for by the chemical industry.


Hundreds of  BPA products have been banned in countries around the world but are available to U.S. consumers without any warnings. In the past two years, legislators in several states have introduced bills that would restrict local sale of infants' and children's products containing BPA, including California. 


Schumer has a long history of protecting children from hazardous materials.  He plans to model the legislation after the provision in the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act which banned lead in children's toys.  Schumer cosponsored the CPSC Reform Act and pushed hard for its passage as a member of  the Senate's Democratic Leadership.  The CPSC Reform Act was passed by the Senate in March of 2008 and is currently awaiting conference with the Housepassed version.  In that Act, any children's product containing lead was to be treated as a banned hazardous substance under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.  Senator Schumer is also a cosponsor of the Lead Free Toys Act of 2007, authored by Senator Barack Obama.  


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