By Rachel La Corte Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Baby bottles and sports bottles sold in Washington state will soon have to be free of the chemical bisphenol A under a measure signed into law on Friday by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The measure, overwhelmingly passed by the House and Senate earlier this month, bans the manufacture and sale of food and drink containers made with bisphenol A — also known as BPA — if they’re intended for children under age 3. Sports water bottles made with the chemical are also banned.
The ban on children’s containers would go into effect July 1, 2011, and the ban on sports bottles would take effect July 1, 2012.
“Parents are demanding BPA-free items for their kids,” said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, with the Washington Toxics Coalition, an environmental group that lobbied for the bill. “This bill just reinforces that Washington is serious about protecting public health.”
Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin have similar laws. Maryland’s Legislature passed a similar measure last month, and Gov. Martin O’Malley has indicated he will sign it. Earlier this month, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced he was directing the state Department of Public Health to start the “regulatory process” in banning BPA.
BPA is a key ingredient in hard, clear polycarbonate plastics used in numerous products, including CDs, DVDs, sports bottles and reusable food and drink containers. BPA is also an ingredient in epoxy resins used to line metal cans.
The American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group that represents BPA producers, including Dow Chemical Co., said BPA is safe and opposes state-by-state measures.
In January, the Food and Drug Administration changed its position on the chemical’s safety, voicing “some concern” about its effects on children and infants. Previously the agency had said the trace amounts of the chemical that leach out of food containers are not dangerous. The FDA plans to conduct additional studies over the next few years.
In an e-mailed statement, officials with the American Chemistry Council said Friday that the organization supported the FDA’s ongoing review of BPA.
“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.
Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Seattle, the Senate sponsor, said she is encouraged by further studies but the new law is “a commonsense precaution.”
“Hopefully the entire country will enjoy this standard here pretty soon,” she said.
Under the law, manufacturers, retailers or distributors who knowingly distribute products containing BPA are subject to a $5,000 fine for each violation. Repeat violators are subject to fines of up to $10,000 for each repeat offense.
Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the new law is a “huge heads up to manufacturers that parents are very concerned about what touches their children’s lips.”