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Sen. Dianne Feinstein Headshot

Chemical Industry Lobbyists Block Measure to Protect Infants and Toddlers

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One day our children will look back and wonder why we willingly risked our health by exposing ourselves to harmful chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in thousands of consumer products. Unfortunately, chemical industry lobbyists wish to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Just as the tobacco industry once told us it was safe to smoke cigarettes, the chemical industry is trying to tell us it's OK to ingest harmful chemicals. It's not OK.

For the past seven months, I worked to craft a compromise amendment for the Food Safety Modernization Act that would ban BPA from infant formula and baby bottles. And on Tuesday night, Senator Enzi and I reached an agreement on BPA. After a lot of hard work, we had a bipartisan agreement.

Bisphenol A (BPA), a man-made chemical, is used in thousands of consumer products from plastic, tin cans and CDs to receipt paper, shatter-resistant water bottles and baby bottles.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it can interfere with how hormones work in our bodies by changing their normal function. The evidence linking BPA to serious health problems is mounting. Over 200 studies link BPA exposure to breast and other cancers, reproductive disorders, cardiac disease, diabetes, early puberty and more.

I planned to introduce an amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act that would ban the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. It was a simple baby step to begin combating this problem. Seven states and Canada have labeled BPA a toxic threat and have passed laws phasing out or banning BPA in specific products that would allow exposure of our most vulnerable population: infants and children.

Moms, dads, grandparents and other consumers and voters all over the country have written to me asking for BPA to be removed from their products. I worked hard negotiating an agreement. Yet every time we made a concession, the goal posts moved farther away.

The very same lobbying group that opposed legislation banning phthalates from children's toys made a last-minute push to scuttle the chances for a reasonable compromise, and Republicans bowed to pressure from the chemical industry. It is regretful that lobbyists for the American Chemistry Council, spending millions of dollars, lined up against a reasonable compromise. And it's maddening that BPA-laden baby bottles will remain on the shelves as a "safe" product.

I'm not going to give up, and neither should consumers. Just because chemical industry lobbyists blocked a vote on BPA doesn't mean you can't vote with your wallet every time you purchase a product. The chemical industry doesn't want you to know about companies that are already phasing out BPA or are searching for alternatives. But those companies are out there and deserve our support.

Sunoco, a company that makes BPA, has said it would refuse to sell the chemical without a guarantee that it would not be used in children's products. Eden Valley Organics now sells beans in BPA-free cans, and Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us will no longer sell baby bottles containing the compound.

U.S. manufacturers that no longer use BPA in baby bottles include Playtex, Gerber, Evenflow, Avent America, Dr. Brown's, and Disney First Years. For adults, you'll be glad to know that Nalgene water bottles are BPA-free. For more information on how to find BPA-free products, visit EWG.org/Bisphenol-a-info.

We should not use our kids as guinea pigs by taking chances on a chemical that can seriously harm their immediate and long-term health. No chemical should be used in food products until it is proven to be safe. I will continue the fight to ban BPA-laden products by introducing new legislation next year.

I hope consumers continue to vote with their pocketbooks and support BPA-free products. Working together, we can make sure that -- one way or another -- these chemical companies are forced to do the right thing and take BPA out of baby products.