Suffolk County Bans Bisphenol-A In Baby Bottles

Suffolk County, New York enacted the nation’s first Bisphenol-A (BPA) ban on Tuesday when it voted to ban BPA from bottles for children 3 and under.

Found in clear plastics like baby and sports bottles, BPA has been potentially linked to scores of adverse health effects, including cancer, heart disease, and variations in anogenital distance (which we looked up: gross). The effects are thought to be more severe in young children.

Whether BPA is harmful, and how so, is contested by chemical groups and the FDA, which recently declared the chemical safe. On the other side, consumer groups (like us!), women’s health groups, and another government body, the National Toxicology Program, have argued that the potential harm is severe and more studies are needed. In the meantime, we probably shouldn’t be letting this potentially dangerous chemical near our children.

Canada banned BPA from children’s products last year, and Chicago is considering a ban. The House and Senate both had legislation last year that partially ban BPA.

(Photo: fallenposters)

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  1. ceilingFANBOY says:

    While I’m still a bit skeptical about the true hazards of BPA, especially considering not all of the BPA in a bottle gets leeched into your drinks, why risk it? There are plenty of viable alternatives.

    • bravohotel01 says:

      @ceilingFANBOY: considering not all of the BPA in a bottle gets leeched into your drinks

      The problem can be exacerbated if one uses it to drink an acidic or warm/hot liquid, or leaves it in a hot car.

      Aluminum is not a good alternative, for the same reasons above (Aluminum intake has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease [preview.tinyurl.com]).

      The best is, of course, glass, but the weight and fragility of glass bottles has its own drawbacks—try jogging while carying one!

      I use unlined stainless steel bottles and see them as an acceptable tradeoff. Of course, the times when I forget hot drinks + strainless = BAD, I get to relive the old Kung-Fu TV series ‘branding’ scene…

  2. lewissalem says:

    Note: You can buy cheap translucent BPA free bottles at Walmart, you don’t have to spend a ton of cash on “Born Free.” The clear ones have BPA.

    • Maegan Anderman says:

      @lewissalem: Or just go with glass bottles. After Canada’s fuss over BPA last year I said screw it and bought some glass ones from Evenflo. Dirt cheap, and the only time I’ve ever broken one was when I dropped it on a tile floor.

  3. S-Meow P-Meow says:

    I live by the rule of “No 3-6-7″. PP, LDPE, PE, PETE, and HDPE plastics are the good ones that aren’t harmful or contain BPA. PVC plastics are also harmful because they contain phthalates but don’t contain BPA from what I understand.

    Plastics with the recycling code 3, 6, or 7 are the bad ones. Toss ‘em.

    It’s easy for me to remember. 365 days in a year, so just think 367.

    • ceilingFANBOY says:

      @S-Meow P-Meow: …or recycle them.

      • S-Meow P-Meow says:

        @ceilingFANBOY: Only problem with that is more 3-6-7 badness is created. It’s like giving tained Chinese toys to the needy to avoid putting them in the garbage…

        Where do you (collectively, not “you” specifically) draw the line between “saving the environment” and poisoning America?

        • ceilingFANBOY says:

          @S-Meow P-Meow: More 3-6-7 bottles wouldn’t be created, a higher percentage would be made out of recycled material. Besides, a lot of recycled plastic ends up in different things besides just bottles, such as benches and the such. I wouldn’t be surprised if after these laws banning the use of BPA in bottles if laws governing how they have to be recycled are created. Better yet, though, you can probably find something to do with your plastic bottles that doesn’t involve drinking out of them. If you have one with a wide mouth, for example, you can use it as a waterproof, floating container for your cell phone, etc. for when you go to the woods.

    • Anonymous says:

      @S-Meow P-Meow:

      Good mnemonic, but totally uninformed (as is all too often the case). To whit:

      3 is poly(vinyl chloride), yes, but not all PVC contains phthalates – only flexible PVC (otherwise you’d better get to work ensuring no plastic pipes between you and your source of drinking water), and even then, only some of that (there are non-phthalate flexibilizers in use).

      6 is polystyrene. What’s wrong with PS? Just don’t overheat or microwave it and you’re fine.

      7 is OTHER. Jesus H. Christ people, this is anything NOT covered by 1-6, including BPA polycarbonate, the BPA-free polyester that’s replacing BPA polycarbonate in all of the bottles, and the compostable, corn-based poly(lactic acid), to name just a few.

      Finally, 1 is poly(ethylene terephthalate), which is fine – very similar to the BPA-free polyester used in the new water bottles – but it contains an antimony catalyst that can leach out to the point where the beverage inside the bottle would exceed EPA limits on antimony in drinking water if you leave it in your car on several consecutive super-hot days during the summer.

      Please, I know folks want to be safe, but inform yourselves before making these decisions, and please be aware that the recycling codes were never meant to serve this function.

  4. Follower46 says:

    Ok, I really want to know where I can get the bottle in that picture! I want to pour all my energy drinks into it!

    • Coles_Law says:

      @Follower46: The bottle looks like the standard Nalgene one. The insert is a removalbe splash guard-they’re common too, although I don’t know exactly where you could find one with a skull.

    • valthun says:

      @Follower46: The label looks to be REI, but yeah the spash guard is not always available with the bottle.

  5. Necrosynth says:

    If I am wrong I will eat my words but:

    science, trumped by fear as always.!

    So, the article makes sure to mention side effects it has been POTENTIALLY(not proven) linked to before mentioning the FDA has cleared it.
    Never listen to the people whose job it is to test things out?
    If no one listens to the FDA, then why even bother having it?
    Suffolk county has just stated they do not trust the FDA, and by extension, everyone who works for them.

    Remember, poison is in the dose. A microscopic amount will most likely not hurt you.

    • S-Meow P-Meow says:

      @Necrosynth: Sounds fair, the FDA’s been doing one excellent job. Peanut Corporation of America is just a bunch of hype.

      I assumed you watched the Congressional inquiry on CSPAN as well?

      • Necrosynth says:

        @S-Meow P-Meow: That is completely off topic. I wasn’t talking about PCA was I? Nor did I day the food poisoning scare was just hype. PCA crealy acted in a unlawful manner. But that has nothing to do with this. Neither does CSPAN congressional hearings.

        What I did say was there is no concrete proof of the dangers of BPA, a potential link is not a link.

        Show me the facts proving it is a dangerous chemical in any quantity. Show me that hazardous amounts leach out over time. All the research so far has not proven that.

        • Necrosynth says:

          @Necrosynth: and yes, my spelling is horrid. deduct points as needed.

        • oneandone says:

          @Necrosynth: It depends on what you define as a hazardous endpoint. BPA is a chemical of concern because of endocrine disruptor potential – something that’s tricky to measure and has been under serious investigation for a much shorter time than other chronic toxic effects like carcinogenicity. This is emerging science, and the public is trying to grapple with it at the same time researchers are. Messiness will result.

          On the other hand, I do think there’s enough evidence to suggest that we should be cautious with our use of BPA and disclose which items contain it, so that consumers can choose to do what they want. Small doses may not be any serious concern for most people, but industry has shot itself in the foot by obfuscating for years whenever anyone raised a question about any type of plasticizer, flame retardant, or synthetic chemical of concern. The lost the public’s trust, and now they have to deal with the panic.

          What’s not to like about BPA?
          - it binds to estrogen receptor sites, even in very small doses. This has a feminizing effect in the species that were tested (mostly snails)([www.ehponline.org])
          - in doses that most people are exposed to, it can lead to insulin resistance and increased liklihood for obsesity (results found in humans)
          ([www.ehponline.org])
          - at slightly higher but still moderate levels, it is linked to aggressive juveinile behavior and interferes with proper development of reproductive organs
          ([www.ehponline.org])

          There’s a lot more, but most of the articles require journal subscriptions. EHP links above do not.

          The bottom line is that the BPA debates come at a time when the NAS is recomending that ALL chemical risk assessments, for all endpoints, assume that there is no safe dose, or a threshold that the body can take.
          ([www.nap.edu])

          There is definitely concrete proof of the dangers of BPA – but they are at ridiculously high doses. The question is whether environmentally relevant doses cause harm. Based on availible research, I think yes. And based on the scientifically valid mechanism of extrapolating low-dose effects from observed high-dose effects when dealing with endocrine disruptors and reproductive tox, that’s more weight that BPA is not something I want in my food containers.

  6. strathmeyer says:

    I come to the Consumerist for all of my public hysteria needs.

  7. heybtbm says:

    They still make baby bottles with BPA? You wouldn’t know that after seeing all the ugly, crap-brown BPA-free bottles at Target/Walmart/Babies R’ Us. These new bottles look like they’re always dirty. Oh well. Safety FTW I guess.

  8. djsyndrome says:

    Yet again a local municipality has to pick up where the federal government leaves off.

    • ScottRose says:

      @djsyndrome:

      Which is why we have local municipalities in this country to begin with. And states. To protect local interests (be they motivated by fear or otherwise).

      • battra92 says:

        @ScottRose: Exactly. This is why I get so upset when people don’t appreciate States’ (and municipalities’) rights.

        Oh, and I’m all for using more glass than plastic as glass is just sand. I’m also assuming glass is greener than plastic but don’t quote me.

  9. Corporate-Shill says:

    Suffolk Cty plans to enforce this regulation HOW?

    Is the State of New York going to allow Suffolk Cty the power to regulate commerce, specifically products which are legal within the State, to be prohibited from sale within the Cty?

    This one is going to get visited by the Court system or the State Legislature real quick and Suffolk Cty might want to invest in some flak jackets because the stuff is going to be flying.

    Oh, the crap should be banned. It should be banned by the Feds or the State, not by a Cty jurisdiction without the legal authority to banish the crap.

  10. DerangedRoleModel says:

    Remember, people: Suffolk County was also the first county to ban cell phones while driving. Not that anyone notices…

  11. flipnut says:

    All plastics leach residue into food when heated.
    Also, there is no such thing as BPA free polycarbonate( not yet)

  12. pollyannacowgirl says:

    I don’t trust the FDA as far as I can throw it. And I’m not hysterical. If my husband cheated on me repeatedly, I wouldn’t trust him, either.

    I’ve seen WAY too many drugs rushed through the approval process to have any faith in their integrity.

    And this story makes me think of a co-worker of mine who used to microwave instant oatmeal in a styrofoam cup every morning. *cringe*

  13. alienvalentine says:

    The question when it comes to Bisphenol-A is not whether or not the substance is dangerous (it is) but rather whether or not Bisphenol-A in consumer products is absorbed by its user. There is absolutely zero scientific evidence to suggest that BPA in plastics is absorbed by humans.