The federal government says baby bottle and sippy cup manufacturers will no longer be allowed to make products containing bisphenol A, or BPA, a move that offers some protection to children but comes short of offering serious BPA protection to the general public, according to some experts. The U.S. joins Canada, the European Union, China, and a handful of other countries that have forbidden the use of BPA in some children's products.
Dozens of studies have linked the hormone-disrupting chemical to obesity, infertility, and behavioral and neurological ailments, including autism, but the chemical industry and even some government researchers continue to claim it's safe.
BPA Ban Fails to Protect Most Vulnerable
Nearly all baby bottle and sippy cup manufacturers have already stopped making products containing BPA due to consumer demand for BPA-free products, but BPA-containing baby bottles and sippy cups still can be found in many discount stores, making the ban something that will mainly protect lower-income families.
Still, the ban has its critics. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit human and environmental health watchdog group, says the baby bottle ban is just another way the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is dodging the bigger question of BPA's safety. "This is only a baby step in the fight to eradicate BPA. To truly protect the public, FDA needs to ban BPA from all food packaging," says Sarah Janssen, PhD, senior scientist in the public health program at NRDC. "This half-hearted action—taken only after consumers shifted away from BPA in children's products—is inadequate. FDA continues to dodge the bigger questions of BPA's safety."
The hormone-disrupting chemical is found in the linings of virtually all food and drink cans. (Eden Foods is the only company currently offering a safer BPA-free alternative in the canned food business.) "It is important to keep in mind that BPA is found in most Americans' bodies, and it isn't getting there from baby bottles," says BPA expert Laura Vandenberg, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts University in Boston. "The most vulnerable population—fetuses—are exposed to BPA in the womb not because of baby bottles, but because of all the other ways pregnant women encounter this chemical."
To cut down on BPA exposure:
• Use glass water bottles and baby bottles. Choose glass baby products with a silicone sleeve, such as those from LifeFactory, to prevent breakage if dropped.
• Opt for fresh or frozen foods instead of canned.
• Say no to trivial cash-register receipts. Many thermal papers are coated with concerning levels of BPA.
• Be wary of BPA-free plastic products. Many could contain equally damaging hormone-disrupting chemicals. "Scientists are concerned about BPA because it mimics the hormone estrogen in the body," Vandenberg explains. "Replacing a baby bottle containing BPA with a new bottle that also contains an estrogen mimic is the wrong idea." Instead, go for glass or food-grade stainless steel food and drink storage containers.