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Chicago leads American cities, bans BPA in baby products

Chicago has made a stand for children (and green parents). Today, March 13th, Chicago became the first American city to ban BPA from products geared toward children 3 and under. The City of Chicago’s action follows similar leadership by the state of Minnesota, and the county of Suffolk in New York.

Canada banned BPA from use in baby bottles and “will take action to limit the amount of bisphenol A that is being released into the environment” in 2008. Japan started a program of voluntary compliance in 1998 that drastically curbed BPA exposure for all ages by changing the lining in canned foods and using alternatives other than polycarbonate tableware in schools, but they have not passed a full-out ban. The EU has considered bans on BPA, but currently has not passed a ban and has taken a similar stance on the issue to that of the FDA.

In the US, the FDA maintains that BPA is safe, including for young children: “Based on our ongoing review, we believe there is a large body of evidence that indicates that FDA-regulated products containing BPA currently on the market are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from food contact materials, including for infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects.   However, we will continue to consider new research and information as they become available.”

Another US government agency, the National Toxicology Institute, however sparked much of the BPA concern after they published a report stating: “In the case of BPA, the NTP and our expert panel expressed ‘some concern’ for potential exposures to the fetus, infants and children. There are insufficient data from studies in humans to reach a conclusion on reproductive or developmental hazards presented by current exposures to bisphenol A, but there is limited evidence of developmental changes occurring in some animal studies at doses that are experienced by humans. It is uncertain if similar changes would occur in humans, but the possibility of adverse health effects cannot be dismissed.  (Read more about the US’s confused stance on BPA.)

Chicago’s ban is a voluntary one.  Retailers will have to police themselves. Violators could lose their business license and be fined up to $500.

“The Chicago City Council is not going to wait and it is sending a strong message, not only to the FDA, but to other jurisdictions, other communities, saying it is time to move forward, it is time to protect our children,” says Alderman Manny Flores who sponsored the bill (from Chi-Town Daily News article).

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