SACRAMENTO — The California state Assembly will vote today on a bill written by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica) that would ban a chemical some say is toxic that is often used in plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and the lining of formula cans.
The vote comes a year after the bill, the Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act, or SB 797, was voted down by the Assembly after being approved by the Senate.
Pavley said an intense lobbying effort from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) using fear tactics has prevented the necessary bill from passing in the past. But the ACC has contended that bisphenol-A (BPA), the chemical in question, has not yet been proven to be toxic, and, thus, states should not pass any regulation against it yet.
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 BPA.
“At this interim stage, FDA shares the perspective of the National Toxicology Program that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children,” said an FDA statement released in January. “FDA also recognizes substantial uncertainties with respect to the overall interpretation of these studies and their potential implications for human health effects of BPA exposure.”
A statement from the ACC in response to today’s vote said it is the FDA’s inconclusiveness that has prompted its stance against Pavley’s bill.
“It is important to allow the federal government’s regulatory authorities to make science-based decisions, and not to create patchwork state restrictions when it comes to consumer products,” the statement said.
But Pavley and her staff said the lobbying efforts are aimed at preventing change. Leaked meeting minutes published by the Washington Post last May showed can manufacturers strategizing ways to prevent BPA bans from passing, including using fear tactics.
“The American Chemistry Council has tons of money, and they like the status quo just fine,” Pavley said.
Though the bill has already been voted down by the Assembly, Pavley said this time is different as now other states, including Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, have passed bills banning BPA with near unanimous votes.
Deborah Hoffman, Pavley’s communications director, said other states were able to pass the bans as almost all of the lobbying efforts have been focused on California.
“The thing about California is, the nation tends to follow suit,” Hoffman said. “So they saw California as ground zero.”
Should the ban not pass in the Assembly today, it will be put on “call,” meaning it will have one more opportunity to be voted on by the end of the session on Aug. 31.
“There’s a growing consensus that BPA is a problem,” Pavley said. “But I’m never confident because it’s babies and pregnant women against the powerful American Chemistry Council.”