In lieu of any federal action on BPA, many states are stepping in to protect consumers – and in particular, children – from this hormone disrupting chemical that’s still prevalent in products that line store shelves.
They’ve started by going after food products and containers marketed for children, since BPA is known to leach out of plastic and into food and beverages. Babies and children, whose bodies are in the early stages of development, are particularly vulnerable.
Eight states so far have instituted marketplace bans on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, with several going beyond that to include other types of containers and packaging as well.
Minnesota was the first state to act, passing a ban in the spring of 2009 which went into effect last January. New York and Wisconsin (which bans BPA in children’s dishware in addition to bottles and cups) also have laws currently in effect.
Connecticut holds the title for having the strongest, most inclusive laws against BPA on the books. Not just limited to children’s products, the law (which goes into effect in October) bans BPA in all reusable food containers in addition to infant formula containers and baby food jars, baby bottles, sippy cups, and sports water bottles.
Four other states have passed bans that will also take effect in the near future: Washington and Massachusetts (July 2011), Maryland (Jan 2012) and Vermont (July 2012).
Where states have failed to act, some cities and municipalities have even instituted their own bans. Chicago’s ordinance, which went into effect last January, outlaws stores within city limits from selling baby bottles or sippy cups that contain BPA. In New York, four counties passed similar bans. (New York has since enacted a statewide ban.)
But if states are beating the federal government to the punch, the same could be said about manufacturers, many of whom saw the writing on the wall for BPA and began eliminating the chemical from their products several years ago. Companies like Avent, Evenflo and Playtex began phasing BPA out of their baby bottles, and Nalgene did the same with their water bottles. Retailers such as Toys R Us, Whole Foods and Walmart also got on board, pledging not to sell baby bottles that contain BPA.
So even if you live in a state without a ban in place, you should be able to find BPA-free children’s products at many major retail stores. It also means, though, that you have to be more cautious, read labels closely and look for the BPA-free designation. And until your state (or the federal government) passes its own ban, know that many retailers will continue to sell baby and children’s products with BPA.