Tag Archives: BPA

Speaking as a Doctor, and a Mom

Cold hard facts can only get you so far in making your case before policy-makers.

Fortunately, with a proposed ban on a toxic chemical in baby products, California health and environmental advocates have both facts and emotion on their side.

Testifying in her role as a doctor and a mom, Dr. Sarah Janssen of the Natural Resources Defense Council captured my attention as she spoke yesterday before the state Senate Environmental Quality Committee about AB 1319, the California bill that would ban the toxic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups.

As folks who've been following CLCV's Groundswell blog know, I'm pregnant (I'm talking REALLY pregnant, as in I can now only wear flip-flops because my feet apparently think they are also pregnant). And as I've been researching and shopping for products for my baby, I'm blown away that anyone with access to the latest information about the dangers of BPA would defend its presence in products for infants and children. Similarly, I pay attention when someone identifies herself as “a doctor and a mom” and says we should ban a toxic chemical from baby feeding containers.

Along with bill author Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, Janssen and fellow BPA ban supporter Renée Sharp, senior scientist with Environmental Working Group, testified about the alarming number of studies (more than 220) that link BPA exposure with cancer, obesity, ADHD, and disrupted development of hormones, the brain, and the immune system.

They testified, as they had in similar Assembly policy hearings, that while safer BPA-free alternatives are widely available in many California communities, low-income families don't always have access to BPA-free products. Without a ban, products containing BPA (some of them from other countries like China, the EU, Canada, and the ten American states that have already passed or implemented bans on BPA) could easily be dumped in stores in poor California neighborhoods.

They also noted that, for the very first time this year, the burden of evidence of BPA's danger to human health is enough for several respected professional medical societies to join in supporting the ban. Just recently, the American Medical Association joined the California Medical Association, the California Nurses Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics of California, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in officially supporting a ban of BPA in feeding products for infants.

So, we've got facts and emotion on our side. But the opposition, in particular the chemical industry, has money. Lots of money. They've spent a lot of that money and time trying to, er, confuse (a nicer word than “buy off”) California legislators with “data” from other studies (many of them funded by their industry) that say there are no straight-forward conclusions about the effects of BPA on human health. Laughably, in yesterday's hearing, one of the representatives from the American Chemistry Council actually tried to convince legislators that he was genuinely concerned about the health impacts of alternatives to BPA. What utter nonsense.

Bill co-author Senator Fran Pavley spoke up, comparing the chemical industry's tactics to those used by the tobacco industry, which for years lied about the dangers of using their products and conducted their own studies to confuse the public and policy-makers alike.

As mom/doctor Sarah Janssen states in a recent post on NRDC's Switchboard: “my medical knowledge and experience aren’t enough to protect my daughter from exposure to toxic chemicals.” But a ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups would go a long way to protecting our daughters and sons, when they are most vulnerable, from this dangerous chemical.

I'll end with good news: the bill passed out of the Environmental Quality Committee yesterday and now goes to the full Senate floor for a vote. Make your voice heard, and sign the petition asking legislators and Governor Jerry Brown to stand up for California kids — not the chemical industry — by passing the Toxin-Free Infants & Toddlers Act (AB 1319).

Bill to ban toxic BPA from baby products moves forward

It may not be as comprehensive as it once was, but the bill to ban Bisphenol A (BPA) in children’s feeding containers in California, AB 1319, passed the Senate Health Committee today in yet another narrow vote.

In order to secure state Senator Michael Rubio’s vote (the final vote needed for passage), bill author and Assemblymember Betsy Butler agreed to accept amendments that included eliminating language in the bill that would have banned the chemical from baby food and infant formula. The ban would still apply to baby bottles and sippy cups, making it similar to more limited bans that have passed elsewhere including in Canada.

The fact that the bill passed through this committee at all is a testament both to Butler’s dedication, and to the work of environmental and children’s health groups to spread the word to their members. Nearly 2,000 CLCV members and others have signed our petition in support of the bill, which was delivered to Senator Rubio’s staff. (Click here to view the petition: http://salsa.wiredforchange.co…

It shouldn’t have been a close vote. Watching several Senators (including Committee Vice-Chair Tony Strickland) protest that because they aren’t scientists, they’re not fit to make a decision about BPA (oh and by the way, they’re parents of small children, so it’s not that they don’t care about kids!), made me feel physically ill. And not just because they make decisions about other issues all the time without having earned a PhD in the subject. It’s called being an elected official.

As a (very) pregnant woman who’s recently done my share of shopping for baby items, I know there are plenty of retailers (online and otherwise) that have BPA-free products available. They include major retailers like Target and Wal-Mart. But many (especially those with actual storefronts) continue to sell products loaded with the chemical. I happen to have both the awareness about BPA and the ability to shop for products that make “BPA-free!” part of their prominent sales pitch. So does each and every member of the Senate Health Committee, whether or not they admit it.

(Seriously, does anyone think any given member of the state legislature would knowingly give their child a bottle that contained BPA?)

But not every mom or dad in California has the information or the access to buy BPA-free. Many families must shop at the local dollar store for feeding containers like bottles and sippy cups. It’s their children who will bear the burden of BPA exposure if the bill does not succeed.

State Senator Kevin DeLeon remarked on this fact in his comments to the committee today, saying: “Every child deserves to grow up in a healthy environment; it’s an equity issue. We have to do everything we can to protect young babies.” He reiterated his support for the bill (with or without the amendments) and thanked author Butler for her courage in championing the issue.

AB 1319 now moves to the Senate Environmental Quality committee before heading to the full California state Senate floor for a vote, and then to Governor Brown’s desk.

The battle is far from over. Chemical companies want to see this bill go down. While they may have lost some of the players involved in the opposition (for example, infant formula manufacturers may no long put as much self-interested energy into opposing it), they’ll almost certainly intensify their campaign over the next several weeks to continue to try to mislead Senators about the science on this toxic chemical.

If you haven’t yet done so, please sign the CLCV petition in support of AB 1319: http://salsa.wiredforchange.co…

Meanwhile, the evidence continues to mount that BPA is dangerous. A new study from the University of Missouri says that human exposure to BPA has actually been underestimated, because prior lab tests have looked at single exposures rather than daily diets.

The study is the “first to examine BPA concentrations in any animal after exposure through a steady diet, which mirrors the chronic exposure that humans receive through food packaging.” It further says more than 8 billion pounds of BPA are produced every year, and more than 90 percent of U.S. residents have measurable amounts of BPA in their bodies. Published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the study’s funding came from the National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences.

You don’t have to be a scientist to look at the mountain of evidence and understand this is a chemical we should be very, very worried about, and to know it doesn’t belong in infant and children’s products. You don’t need a PhD, you don’t even have to be a parent. You just have to use common sense… and it also helps if you’re not accepting donations from the American Chemistry Council.

I’m just sayin’.

Jenesse Miller

Communications Director, CLCV

How did your representatives vote on the environment?

California’s clean air and water, pristine coastline, wild open spaces and public health protections don’t happen by accident. They happen because champions for the environment run for office, and once they’re elected, they work to pass laws that protect our natural resources and improve our quality of life.

Today the California League of Conservation Voters released our annual California Environmental Scorecard. The Scorecard is the behind-the-scenes look at the battle to protect the Golden State’s natural legacy and public health, and reveals how the governor and members of the state legislature voted on critical environmental proposals in the 2010 legislative session. Take action and let your legislators know what you think about their 2010 scores: Visit http://www.ecovote.org/

The story of the 2010 Scorecard is as much about how the environmental community stopped multiple attacks on the environment as it is about how we passed strong laws that protect our quality of life. But the story doesn’t end there, because we expect more attacks in 2011 that falsely claim we need to sacrifice the environment in order to improve the economy.

Emboldened by the tough economic climate, anti-environmental legislators introduced dozens of so-called “regulatory reform” bills in 2010 in an attempt to weaken environmental protections. The good news is that, with the help of environmental champions in the state Senate and Assembly, CLCV and our allies successfully defeated the bills that posed the most serious threats to the environment and public health. At the same time, environmental advocates were able to deliver several important proposed laws to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk, including bills dealing with energy storage, recycling, water conservation, pesticides, clean energy jobs, and oil spill prevention.

Schwarzenegger’s 2010 score of 56% factored into an average lifetime score of 53 percent over his seven years as governor. The governor received national recognition for leadership on environmental issues. However, he leaves office with a mixed legacy, having championed some issues-notably, bold solutions to climate change-and having proven less reliable on others, including protecting public health and state parks.

How did your legislator perform on the environmental community’s priority legislation to protect the environment and public health? Learn your legislators’ scores and then let them know what you think! (More after the jump).

2010 California Environmental Scorecard Highlights:

Governor Schwarzenegger 56% (leaves office with 53% average score)

Senate average: 59%

Senate Democrats: 91%

Senate Republicans: 6%

Senators with 100% score: 12

Highest Scoring Senate Republican: Blakeslee, 21%

Lowest Scoring Senate Democrat: Correa, 30%

Assembly average: 64%

Assembly Democrats: 94%

Assembly Republicans: 7%

Assemblymembers with 100% score: 30

Highest Scoring Assembly Republican: Fletcher, 19%

Lowest Scoring Assembly Democrat: Huber, 43%

Perfect 100%:

Senators: Alquist, Cedillo, Corbett, DeSaulnier, Hancock, Kehoe, Leno, Liu, A. Lowenthal, Pavley, Steinberg, Yee.

Assemblymembers: Ammiano, Bass, Beall, Blumenfield, Bradford, Brownley, Carter, Chesbro, Coto, de Leon, Eng, Evans, Feuer, Gatto, Hayashi, Hill, Huffman, Jones, Lieu, B. Lowenthal, Monning, Nava, J. Pérez, Ruskin, Salas, Saldaña, Skinner, Swanson, Torlakson, Yamada.

The California Environmental Scorecard is an important tool for environmental voters, who for nearly 40 years have helped CLCV deliver on our mission to hold elected officials accountable to their campaign promises to protect California’s families and natural heritage.

With the introduction this year of a new interactive, online Environmental Scorecard, CLCV is making it even easier for voters to communicate with their elected officials about their environmental performance.

Please know the score and take action today! Visit http://www.ecovote.org/

CA Assembly Fails to Pass BPA Bill

As you all know, I and other members on the MomsRising.org team have been fervently working to pass a bill in California that would help eliminate the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic baby and toddler products like bottles and sippy cups. I thought I would let you know how the vote went on Friday.

It had already passed the Senate and was favored by the Assembly 35-32. Unfortunately, it did not garner the 41 votes necessary to clear the Assembly. Here is how individual Assemblymembers voted.

Here is a statement by Sen. Fran Pavley, who sponsored and fought her heart out for this important bill:

“California was poised to join Canada, Minnesota, Connecticut and several other cities and counties in the United States that, with significant bi-partisan support, have enacted bans on BPA in baby bottles and other feeding products for children. ‘The science on BPA clearly shows cause for alarm,’ said Senator Pavley. ‘Every child from every community in our state deserves access to safe, affordable products. I don’t understand how some lawmakers are willing to ignore science and risk the health of California children.’

“Bisphenol A (BPA) is an artificial hormone that is widely used in shatter-proof plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and the lining of formula cans. It leaches out of containers and into food and drink consumed by babies and young children.

“More than 220 peer-reviewed studies have linked BPA to a host of health problems, including breast and prostrate cancer, infertility, obesity, and neurological and behavioral changes, including autism and hyperactivity.

“Senator Pavley’s SB 797 was co-authored by Senator Carol Liu, D – Pasadena, and was sponsored by Breast Cancer Fund, Environmental Working Group and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The bill received widespread support from health care professionals, business owners and a long and diverse list of organizations including; Black Women for Wellness, Latinas for Reproductive Justice, The Help Group for Autism Spectrum Disorders, California Teachers Association, California Nurses Association, Asian Health Services, and California Women Infants and Children (WIC), SEIU, California Labor Federation, and Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice to name a few. The opponents include BPA manufacturers Dow and SABIC Innovative Plastics, as well as infant formula makers Abbott, Mead Johnson, and Nestle.”

I won’t lie. I am disappointed in the legislators who voted against the bill and abstained from voting. But I am also extra determined to fight for the bill when it comes up for reconsideration next year, and to convince these legislators that California families with science on our side are more powerful than corporate lobbyists. Will you join me?

Thank you, by the way, to those of you who called your Assemblymembers in support of SB 797!

Thank You — and Plea For More Help on Toxics Bill

(An action item over the flip, call your assembly member. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Hi all,

I just want to thank this community for its support of Sen. Mark Leno’s bill (SB 772) to get rid of a state de facto rule requiring toxic flame retardants in baby products. (Thank you, Brian, for promoting the diary!)

Unfortunately, that bill died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee — by a mere 2 votes. Despite intense lobbying by the chemical industry and its front group “Citizens for Fire Safety” we lasted 5 rounds to that point.

Nonetheless, many of us have dusted ourselves off and we are intensely working on the same Assemblymembers to pass another bill, SB 797 sponsored by Sen. Fran Pavley, that would ban the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in baby products like bottles and formula cans. Other states like Minnesota and Connecticut already have passed similar bills.

EDIT by Brian: Take Action over the flip.

Today is the last day to pass this important piece of legislation in the California State Assembly. As the Los Angeles Times noted today, the formula and packaging industry have launched a ferocious campaign against this bill even though there are 200 peer-reviewed studies linking BPA with heart disease, diabetes, liver problems, brain damage, cancer and hormone disruption.

We are currently six votes shy of passing this important piece of legislation. CA parents, can you help us protect our children from BPA by making a few quick phone calls? Please encourage the following legislators who voted against the bill to vote YES on SB 797:

Wilmer Amina – Carter 916-319-2062

Alyson Huber- 916-319-2010

Norma Torres- 916-319-2061

We have even provided a script to help you out:

“Hello, My name is ___________________ and I am calling on behalf of parents in California in favor of supporting SB 797 to get the chemical bisphenol-A out of baby bottles and formula cans.

I know that the Assemblymember has one last chance to support this bill today through an “aye” vote when it is up for reconsideration. I am greatly concerned that as a parent, Assemblymember __________ is unwilling to protect the state’s children herself. I am urging her support of SB 797 today.

Thank you for your time!”

While Republicans overwhelmingly voted against this bill and Democrats overwhelmingly supported it, there are some Democrats — especially in southern California — who abstained from voting altogether. Why not put in a phone call to your Assemblymember while you are at it? Here is a list of Assemblymembers’ offices.

Thank YOU for taking the time to save this bill and protect our children from toxic products. Please help spread the word to all your family and friends in California!

Endocrine Disruptors and the CA BPA Ban in the Assembly

Want to be flame retardant? Eat meat. Apparently, chicken and red meat consumption is linked to a higher body burden of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – a chemical used as a flame retardant in consumer products. Unfortunately, while that might be a handy trait if possessed by a human, that’s not what you get from eating a lot of PBDEs. Instead, what you get is endocrine disruption.

Endocrine disruptors was the subject of a recent column by Nicholas Kristof who encourages us to learn from the frogs. Amphibians seem to be the canaries in the coal mine for endocrine disruptors. The frogs are showing up with all kinds of genital abnormalities. One such chemical that appears to affect frogs, atrazine, is such a popular pesticide that it contaminates drinking water in some parts of the country. Some countries ban atrazine, but it’s perfectly legal in the U.S.

Another endocrine disruptor is BPA (Bisphenol A) which JayinPortland has been reporting on regularly on the blog La Vida Locavore.  

BPA is used in everything from baby bottles to canned foods. One recent headline was that BPA stays in our bodies longer than previously thought. Then we found out what the FDA was doing about it: Nothing. In fact, worse than nothing. They were siding WITH the pro-BPA lobby.

There are a few bills in Congress to ban BPA, and there’s a lot of money going into lobbying against those bills. (You can take action here.) The version of the food safety bill that just passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee included a provision requiring the FDA to study the safety of BPA, which – if it passes in the final bill – will essentially just stall any ban on BPA. In other words, calling for an FDA study is WORSE than doing nothing, because it puts off any ban on BPA that might have otherwise passed.

California, Maryland, Connecticut, and Minnesota also have BPA bans in the works. Minnesota was the first to ban BPA, although they only banned it in baby bottles and sippy cups. Connecticut followed suit soon after. California just passed a BPA ban (in food and drink containers designed for kids 3 and younger) through the Senate so now we’re waiting on the Assembly – and the signature of the Governator. You can take action here.

Of course, BPA is not the only endocrine disruptor out there – it’s just the one that’s in the news, and that we’re closest to getting rid of. The question we should be asking ourselves is how we came to legalize so many harmful chemicals in the first place, and how we might reform our system so that we can prevent doing so in the future.