Tag Archive | "BPA"

Toxins? Not Here.

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Although it is not the first time Suffolk County has passed a law before the rest of the nation, we commend the county legislators who recently voted to ban the sale of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups made for infants.

We live in a county with some of the highest cancer rates in the country. It makes sense that we should consider abandoning products that contain cancer-causing toxins and we should be supportive of our government who did just that.

We’d like recognize our county legislator, Jay Schneiderman, who co-sponsored a bill allowing only for the sale of BPA-free bottles for infants. The chemical BPA has been found in many different name brand items made for children and some of the country’s biggest retailers sell them. The dangers of BPA exposure is much higher for children, so this law prohibits the sale of products containing BPA for children under three.

We understand the industry is suggesting small levels of this toxin aren’t harmful. But who’s to know what a small dosage is? We also doubt the plastics and chemical industries are putting a lot of effort into finding studies that show their products are unsafe.

The dangers posed by prolonged use of products containing BPA for children can include complications like an altered immune system, hyperactivity, reproductive health problems, an increased risk of cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Why are manufacturers using something that is potentially hazardous if there are alternatives? It may be that many of these products are coming from overseas, where quality standards are less stringent. Or it may be that they’re coming from companies who are under pressure to make money. Think of the stories that have been in the news in recent months about the salmonella outbreak caused by peanuts in this country and those Chinese made toys and food products that were tainted.

It seems like there’s precious little we can control in our lives these days. If we can take a few worrisome products off the shelves and eliminate at least one unhealthy substance from coming into daily contact with our children, then that’s something. There are enough things to worry about in this world. The safety of sippy cups and baby bottles shouldn’t be one of them.

Legislator Jay Schneiderman

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The East End Legislator based in Sag Harbor on banning the sale of plastic baby products with the chemical bisphenal A [BPA]. Schneiderman, the dangers of the chemical and what the community can expect next on the county level.


We  learned last week a bill was passed banning the sale of any plastic product for babies containing high levels of BPA- why do you feel this was an important change for the legislature to mandate?

 It is important in general because it is our job as lawmakers to protect the public – to protect public health. There is a growing body of research showing that this chemical is harmful – particularly to infants. And there are many alternatives. It’s not necessary to have bisphenal A, although the industry may think it is, there are plenty of alternatives and stores are already marketing BPA-free bottles.

I think the public has moved in the direction against this risk factor. I think we did the right thing by saying that you are not going to sell these bottles – baby bottles and sippy cups – that contain BPA.


What happens when the bottle is heated and what dangers are posed to infants because of this?

What happens when you heat these bottles up? It [BPA} is released into the milk in the bottle and it can affect brain development and it can cause tumors. There is enough research out there, but the industry will beg to differ. All the impartial studies that I’ve seen all say that the risk is too great to continue to allow this chemical to be used. BPA mimics estrogen and gets into the hormone system of infants and causes developmental problems. 


How are officials planning to get these items off the shelves of national retail chains in Suffolk County and how is the county going to implement that?

 Well, that certainly is an interesting question – because what happens to the inventory that they have? And I’m not sure how that is going to be addressed. I suppose they could move it into other stores in other counties - though I think this prohibition ought to be expanded statewide as well as nationwide. So I think it is only a matter of time, but I think the FDA is moving fairly slow.


Do you know of any other countries or places in the world that have also banned this?

 Canada. They did it not through legislative action, but as regulatory action - through their equivalent to the FDA. I think that will eventually happen here too.


Do you know of any national retailers that already stopped selling plastics with BPA?

I think a lot of them now, some of the Walmarts, King Kullen, some of the bigger stores. You will see bottles that say BPA-free. The educated public is looking for them. That’s what challenges [retailers]. The consumer is going to demand BPA-free bottles.


For a consumer looking at a product that doesn’t have a label indicating a BPA-free plastic – how can a customer know that there is BPA in the product?

I don’t think there are any requirements to list it. You’ll know in a few months when this law takes effect that you can buy that bottle in Suffolk County it’s BPA-free – because that is the only way that you will be able to tell.


What about those plastics bottles that have numbers listed on the bottom inside recycling symbols?

Yes, good point, I know plastic bottles with the number seven contain BPA – you can tell by the number. I remember that number seven has BPA, but if you went online you can find out. Those large Poland Spring water bottles that go into water coolers – those have BPA. It is more of a risk if the bottle is heated up or left in the sun – those chemicals can leach out. The problem is larger for infants because they are still developing. This law only affects infant bottles.


So what is the next step?

Well we already had the public hearing so now the county executive has to sign it. Then I have to look and see when the effective date is.

But I do think there may be litigation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the industry decided to sue over this.


Are there any other laws you are working on that look out for the safety of adults and children?

I probably will resubmit the pesticide law.

I may change it slightly, but the basic idea would be to prevent pesticides containing certain toxins being used for aesthetic purposes. So, for the pure purpose of a green law, you wouldn’t be able to put toxins on it or reproductive toxins or suspected carcinogens. I don’t know if this bill will ever get passed, people love their green lawns. But it is about time we look out for our children’s health before our green lawns. I’m not giving up and I may tighten it up a bit but that is the main purpose of the bill – that you cannot put toxins in the environment. It would be different if you were killing rats or something but if you are doing it just for aesthetics, that is not a good enough reason to introduce toxins into the environment in a county where the cancer rate is higher than the national average. And until we figure out what is going on – we should be doing everything we can to prevent unnecessary exposure to toxins.