Trend Watch: Wisconsin State Legislators Overwhemingly Support BPA Ban For Baby Bottles


Baby bottle nipple. Image credit:TipTopHealthShop

Direct from the Stevens Point WI Journal: "A bill banning the manufacture or sale of plastic baby bottles and cups in Wisconsin that contain the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) has passed both houses of the state legislature...The bill passed the Assembly 95-2 Tuesday [yesterday]. It passed the Senate 33-0 on Jan. 26." Obviously a great many Republicans voted in favor of the ban. So what's going on here?Background.
Back in the 1970's and 80's, Wisconsin was known as a leading progressive state in matters of environmental management: both in terms of legislation and regulation as well as in actual performance. [Fifty years prior, in an unrelated matter, Wisconsin was one of the major starting points of the Progressive Party.] Note: In this post I am not talking about the 'progressivism' bogey man Glenn Beck disdainfully whips his audience into a frenzy over, nor am I talking about a long gone political party. I'm talking, here, about laws and rules enacted in the public interest, developed through thoughtful collaboration of business leaders, scientists, academics, and citizens.

Back to what's happening.
If the near-unanimous vote by both houses of the Wisconsin legislature is an indication of a larger trend, we could be leaving the environmental dark ages. If that were so, Beck's posturing is destined to become a wart on the posterior of time. But there is more than meets the eye.

The meta-story.
If the legislative ban had been for bumper coatings or something else far less personal, there'd have been a fight in both houses. However, no legislator anywhere wants to be seen as voting specifically against the health of children - nuances of toxicity testing and the subtleties of 'who said so' easily go under the bus for such a narrowly targeted piece of legislation.

Why so long?
The BPA issue has dragged on for two main reasons. Had producers simply agreed a few years back to slowly phase out sales to makers of baby bottles, I probably wouldn't be writing about this today. Didn't see much official resistance from the industry to this bill. The writing is on the wall when it comes to baby; and there are many unrelated applications for BPA that pose no risk at all: things you don't put in your mouth and don't contain your food and drink with. Direct from the industry:

How is BPA used?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical building block that is used primarily to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastic is a lightweight, high-performance plastic that possesses a unique balance of toughness, optical clarity, high heat resistance, and excellent electrical resistance. Because of these attributes, polycarbonate is used in a wide variety of common products including digital media (e.g., CDs, DVDs), electrical and electronic equipment, automobiles, sports safety equipment, reusable food and drink containers , and many other products.

BPA is also used in the production of epoxy resins. Epoxy resins have many uses including engineering applications such as electrical laminates for printed circuit boards, composites, paints and adhesives, as well as in a variety of protective coatings. Cured epoxy resins are inert materials used as protective liners in metal cans to maintain the quality of canned foods and beverages, and have achieved wide acceptance for use as protective coatings because of their exceptional combination of toughness, adhesion, formability, and chemical resistance.

How much BPA is produced?
In 2002, approximately 2.8 million tons of bisphenol A (BPA) was produced globally (Source: Chemical Market Associates, Inc. (CMAI)). Most BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.

The other reason that bipartisan support can exist is in the face of every state legislator: Walmart's decision to phase out baby bottles made with BPA. Tip of the hat the big retailer.

Third, is the overwhelming anecdotal evidence that FDA has been asleep at the wheel in so many of its risk management functions. State legislators knew that to protect public health they had to act on their own.

More related posts.
lately:- FDA On BPA: It Has "Some Concern." But Not Much
Before that:- FDA Says BPA Is Safe For Babies
And then...FDA Chair Studying BPA Took $5 Million Donation From BPA Supporter ...

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