Six major bottle manufacturers have promised to stop using it and the Illinois legislature considered banning it. But all those efforts to prevent BPA from reaching young children aren’t enough for Chicago Alderman Manuel Flores.
Flores, who represents Chicago’s 1st Ward, is pushing the city council to pass a ban on BPA-laden bottles, sippy cups and eating containers designed for children under 3. If the council agrees, Chicago will join a small but growing number of local governments nationwide trying to prevent the use of BPA in children’s products.
BPA, otherwise known as bisphenol A, is a synthetic sex hormone that mimics estrogen and is used to make hard polycarbonate plastic for various items, from the lining of food cans to baby bottles. Scientists have linked BPA to rising rates of learning disabilities, hormone disruption and cancer.
In 2008, Canada’s government began implementing a nationwide ban on bisphenol A in baby bottles. In March, Suffolk County, N.Y., became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to ban them. That same month, six baby bottle companies—Avent, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Evenflow, Playtex and Disney First Years—voluntarily banned BPA from baby bottles sold in this country.
The Food and Drug Administration last year found that BPA in baby bottles posed no safety concerns, although the FDA was later accused of ignoring research that found otherwise. The chemical industry has argued that the products are safe.
Last month, the Illinois House considered, but failed to pass, the Child-Safe Chemicals Act. Flores, who began his campaign more than a year ago, says Chicago City Council can’t wait for the state or federal government to take action. He is hoping that parents citywide will contact their alderman to encourage passage of the city ban.
"It breaks my heart knowing my son was exposed and that other parents also unwittingly exposed their children to toxic chemicals," he says.
Parents searching for safe products can:
• Look on the bottom of the bottle; if it has a "7" or "PC," it most likely contains BPA.
• Search for BPA-free bottles by visiting www.safemama.com or www.squidoo.com.
• Minimize exposure of BPA from favorite sippy cups or bottles by avoiding heat, such as the microwave or dishwasher, and don’t allow liquids to sit in bottles or cups.
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