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MA Department of Health Warning Reflects Senator’s BPA Bill

August 5, 2009

The Massachusetts Department of Health issued an advisory Monday regarding the potential harmful effects on infants of products containing the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is a chemical component common in many hard plastics and appears often in food containers, baby bottles, and toys. After an in-depth, year-long study conducted on lab animals, the State Department of Health has advised pregnant women and parents of children up to the age of two to avoid contact with products containing BPA.

This warning reflects the importance of the BPA issue raised in Senate Bill 432, An Act to Protect children from Bisphenol-A,  filed by Senator Spilka in January of 2009. The bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale, and distribution of toys or child-care articles (such as baby bottles and sippy cups) intended for use by children under the age of three.

As the federal government has not yet moved to ban BPA, some state governments have already taken this important public health issue into their own hands.  Minnesota and Connecticut have passed legislation banning baby-bottles that contain BPA. Effective in 2011, these laws are similar to the one proposed by Senator Spilka.

Containers made with BPA can release the chemical in low levels into the food or liquids they hold, especially when heated or run through a dishwasher. A large number of studies have linked BPA exposure, even in low dosages, to a variety of health problems including prostate and breast cancer, obesity, and brain damage. Environmental advocates in Massachusetts see this warning as a step forward, but are pushing for a full ban on the chemical.

The US Food and Drug Administration has long considered BPA to be safe, but is now taking a closer look at the chemical’s effects. The FDA will release a public update on August 17.

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