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California Closer to Banning BPA in Plastics

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From the Los Angeles Times:

Reporting from Sacramento — Despite a fierce lobbying effort by the U.S. chemical industry, the state Senate narrowly approved a proposal Tuesday that would ban the use of a substance in baby bottles, toddler sippy cups and food containers that independent scientists say is a threat to childhood development.

The bill by state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) prohibiting the use of bisphenol A — more commonly dubbed BPA — now goes to the Assembly, where it is expected to face a wall of resistance from manufacturers of the infant products that contain the controversial chemical.

Industry leaders have targeted California for an orchestrated lobbying and grassroots PR campaign to turn back efforts by health and consumer groups to ban the use of the chemical, a component in the manufacture of plastic containers.

Researchers from the chemical industry say the public health threat has been vastly overblown. But more than 200 independent scientific studies have linked BPA to brain development and behavioral problems in young children, early puberty and the eventual onset of some types of cancer. Scientists say the chemical can leach into a liquid, particularly when a bottle or cup is heated.

Pavley said on the floor that the goal of her legislation is to protect "the most vulnerable," stressing that affordable alternatives are already available to the chemical industry.

"For each year we delay, 500,000 babies are born in California" who could be affected, she declared.

The measure squeaked through with a bar majority largely on partisan lines, 21-16, though two Democrats — Sens. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) and Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) voted with the Republicans.

Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) said the measure is a "knee jerk reaction" that sidesteps efforts the state undertook just last year to more fully study the effects of potential chemical threats before adopting blanket bans.

BPA has been used since the 1950s as an additive to give plastics more strength and is common in hundreds of household products, including plastic bottles and food containers. It is also used in the linings of canned goods such as soup, baby formula and fruits or vegetables.