California Assembly passes bill banning BPA in baby bottles


The state Assembly passed a bill Thursday to ban the chemical Bisphenol-A from baby bottles and other items that come in contact with small children.

The Toxin-Free Toddlers and Babies Act, or SB 797, would ban the use of BPA in feeding products, including formula, for children 3 years old and younger.

BPA has been linked with health problems such as infertility, autism, asthma, hyperactivity and breast cancer. In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reversed its long-held position that BPA posed no concern, calling for more studies of the artificial hormone that often is used in shatter-proof plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and linings of cans, including those containing baby formula.

Written by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), SB 797 was introduced in early 2009, but was defeated in the Assembly last September. Pavley asked for reconsideration and on Thursday the measure received enough votes to pass. It will return to the Senate for a reconciliation vote in August, at which point it could move on to Gov. Schwarzenegger for his signature. A spokesman for the governor said Thursday that Schwarzenegger had not taken a position on the bill.

Tim Shestek, senior director of state affairs for the American Chemistry Council, said his group continues to oppose the measure. “We don’t believe that the Legislature … should be in the business of making decisions on these complex scientific questions,” he said. “That’s why they created the Green Chemistry Initiative, so state scientists can evaluate chemicals in consumer products.”

The Green Chemistry Initiative was a bill that passed the California Legislature in September 2008. It required the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to prioritize chemicals of concern and to put the burden of chemical testing on that agency, not industry.

“Sen. Pavley is supportive of the Green Chemistry Initiative and we look forward to having a process in place so that we can evaluate chemicals of concern, but it’s not up and running and we don’t know when it will be,” said Sen. Pavley’s legislative director, Elise Thurau. “This bill is integrated with the green chemistry process.”

If passed, SB 797 would require the manufacturers of baby bottles, cups and jars to discontinue use of BPA by January 2012. Makers of infant formula would need to comply by July 2012.