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If you want the BPA problem solved, you’ll have to do it yourself

Submitted by on Friday, 26 September 2008 No Comment

“There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?” Mr. McGuire’s advice to Ben in “The Graduate.”

Forty years down the road, we have reason to believe the future might not be so great. Or, at least, we should. Not everyone believes it, though — count the Toy Industry Association among those numbers.

That’s why all the usual reasons were sited when California Sen. Carol Midgen’s bill that would have banned the chemical Bisphenol A in bottle, sippy cups and food containers for children younger than 3 failed late last month by five votes. Let the market take care of the problem. The ban would be bad for business.

That’s why U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s bill, which would ban BPA use nationwide in products for children younger than 7, will meet a similar fate. Does the fact that its first assignment is to a committee with the word “commerce” in the title suggest the deck might be stacked?

That’s why there are those who want us to ignore research that says BPA can harmto reproductive and immune systems, as well as cause behavioral changes, learning disabilities and brain damage.

“FDA has concluded that an adequate margin of safety exists for BPA at current levels of exposure from food contact uses,” the government said in a draft report issued this year

Luckily, more than one agency’s looking at the issue. And, unlike the FDA the National Toxicology Program doesn’t appear to be chugging the plastics industry Kool-Aid.

Exposure to BPA, which is used in everything from water bottles to food-can liners to plastic spoons, is “of ‘some concern’ for effects on development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children,” the toxicology program said in a draft report issued Sept. 3.

Still more research published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association — and you know what a bunch of crunchy granola crackpots that group is — found that elevated urinary levels of BPA were associated with increased prevalence of diabetes and heart disease.

And that’s why it’s dangerous to wait any longer for the government to act. Start cleaning your kitchen cabinets now — no need poisoning another generation while we wait for regulation.

The Canadian government already has banned import, sale and advertising of baby bottles containing BPA. Shortly after that ban was proposed, several –Toys R Us, Nalegene Outdoor Products and Wal-Mart quickly announced plans to phase out the chemical.

So yes, I suppose industry — notably retail, which is far more vulnerable than manufacturers when publicity suggests products can poison consumers — has stepped up to some small degree.

For the most part, though, it’s going to up to us. There are resources out there to help you figure out how to get BPA out of your life — everything from Consumer Reports to blogs that offer household hints

The down side to that: How many millions of last lead-contaminated toys remain in the hands of children whose parents didn’t get the word?

I can’t run around snatching water bottles out of every kid’s hands — couldn’t afford the co-pay for the repeated broken nose. Silly me still thinks it’s the government’s job to get rid of things that can harm children.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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