SACRAMENTO — After twice voting down a bill that would ban a chemical some say is toxic from being used in baby bottles and other products, the state Assembly earlier this month approved the bill written by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica).
The Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act, or SB 797, would ban the use of Bisphenol-A (BPA) from baby bottles, cups and jars meant for children 3 years old and younger by January 2012.
After passing in the Senate in June 2009, the bill was voted down in the Assembly that year. It came up for a vote again last Monday, but again fell just shy of passing. The bill was then put on call, meaning it had one last opportunity to be voted on. The bill passed last Thursday with a vote of 43 to 31.
There have been more than 220 studies that have linked BPA to health problems, including breast and prostrate cancer, infertility, obesity, and neurological and behavioral changes, including autism and hyperactivity, according to a news release from Pavley. In January, the Food and Drug Administration announced it would begin in-depth research into the effects of BPA, but at that point remained inconclusive on its stance on the chemical.
When the bill came up for a vote last Monday, many Assembly members opted not to vote, said Deborah Hoffman, Pavley’s communications director. Though it was originally thought the bill would not be voted on again until the end of the session in August, it came up for a vote again last Thursday after supporters had the opportunity to garner the votes needed to pass.
“We only needed 41 to pass. We’re thrilled it went to 43,” Hoffman said.
The bill will now return to the Senate to reconcile with the Assembly version, which has amendments that, among other things, will allow it to work in conjunction with the Green Chemistry Initiative, which requires the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to prioritize chemicals of concern and to put the burden of chemical testing on that agency, not the industry.
The Senate must vote on the bill sometime before the end of the session on Aug. 31, but there is no set date yet on when the body will take action.
Though Pavley’s office is hopeful there will be no trouble passing the bill in Senate again, passage is never certain, Hoffman said.
The American Chemistry Council, which was a main source of opposition to the bill, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.