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Message in the Bottle: MN Law Successfully Clears Store Shelves of BPA

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May 16, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Parents in Minnesota can rest a little easier now, according to a new report from the Healthy Legacy coalition, co-founded by the Institute on Agriculture and Trade Policy. "Message in a Bottle" shows that states that regulate bisphenol a (BPA) have been effective at clearing retail stores of baby bottles, sippy cups and breast-milk storage products that carry the hormone-disrupting chemical.

A large body of science shows BPA's negative impact on health, according to Kathleen Schuler, the report author and co-director of the coalition.

"It's linked to developmental problems, reproductive problems, cancer, obesity, diabetes and liver abnormalities. These are all things that can be caused by insidious, early-life exposures to BPA."

It is particularly important to have baby products BPA-free, Schuler explains, because the chemical leeches out of polycarbonate plastic when it is heated, significantly increasing the risk of exposure. While banning the chemical from baby products is a good first step, she warns that exposure from other products is still a risk.

"Only two states regulate BPA in formula-can linings, so that's still a concern. Also, BPA is used in the majority of food-can linings, which exposes both adults and young children."

Schuler adds that even thermal credit card receipts now carry BPA, so it's a good idea not to allow children to handle them.

While regulations controlling chemicals like BPA are critical, it's smarter and more cost-effective to take preventive measures by reforming federal law, like the Toxic Substances Control Act, Schuler says.

"The federal laws that regulate industrial chemicals fail to protect us from chemicals like BPA. They don't require comprehensive safety testing, so chemicals like BPA can continue to get into consumer products. Then we have to solve the problem afterward, instead of preventing it up front."

Minnesota was the first state in the nation to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. Seven other states and the city of Chicago soon followed suit. Until BPA is regulated nationwide, however, Schuler advises parents when traveling to look for products marked "BPA free" and to be careful not to pick up older stock that may be shelved next to newer, safer products.

The full report is available at http://healthylegacy.org/resources.cfm?refid=108015.

Sharon Rolenc, Public News Service - MN