By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
After weeks of growing health concerns over a common chemical found in baby bottles, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and five other U.S. senators filed legislation today to ban the compound from all children’s products.
The chemical, bisphenol A, is used to make transparent plastics used in shatter-proof sipping cups, baby bottles and a host of other consumer products from hiking water bottles to sunglasses. The legislation also requires that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct a comprehensive study of the health effects of bisphenol A in children and adults.
Two weeks ago, the US National Toxicological Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, released a draft report on the chemical saying there were some concern for health problems in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures. Canada then announced it was planning on banning baby bottles made with the synthetic compound. Stores from Wal-Mart to CVS pledged to pull baby bottles made with the chemical from shelves. Nalgene, the maker of the durable and ubiquitous hiking bottle whose parent company, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., is based in Waltham, also said it would replace its bisphenol A bottles in stores.
“As the evidence mounts about BPA’s health risks, the first thing we should do is take this chemical out of children’s products,’’ said Kerry. “Parents should be able to give their kids a drink without wondering whether the baby bottle or sippee cup will make their child sick.”
Animal studies have linked exposure to small amounts of the odorless, tasteless chemical to reproductive problems and possible cancers later in life, though the true level of risk is unknown. A small body of research suggests that exposure to the chemical in the uterus could contribute to later obesity.
Bisphenol A is one of the most commonly used synthetic compounds. It is used to line most canned goods, from soups to soft drinks, to prevent corrosion. It helps make sunglasses and compact discs durable. And, of course, it is used in baby bottles.
A recent study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 93 percent of the US population had bisphenol A in their body. Infants and young children had higher levels than adults. Scientists are most concerned about early development because it is a critical time in determining long-term health. Both the US Toxicology Program and Canadian reviews said there appeared to be a negligible effect from bisphenol A on adults.
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are part of the proposed ban.
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