Protecting Toddlers

Milk, not BPA, for babies

As a Jewish parent and environmental scientist, I am consumed by guilt for taking the baby bottle shortcut when feeding our kids many years ago.  Yes, I put formula, and even – gasp –breast milk, in a plastic bottle and heated  it for 30 seconds in the microwave to satiate our kids and get them to stop crying. Who knows what was leached from those indestructible, clear plastic baby bottles while I was heating milk to lukewarm temperatures.

Of all people, I should have known better.  As more information came out in the public health literature about the risks of consuming Bisphenol A (BPA), an organic chemical used to produce polycarbonate plastics that are clear and nearly shatterproof, my guilt grew over exposing my three kids to an endocrine disrupting, potential neurotoxin and carcinogen.

Thankfully, my future grandkids won’t suffer from the same toxic exposure, thanks to Assemblymember Betsy Butler, the author of AB 1319.  Now that Gov. Brown has signed Butler’s bill into law, the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups for kids under three no longer can contain concentrations of BPA above one tenth of a part per billion. California joins 10 other states, the European Union and China in banning BPA in bottles and sippy cups.

Speaking from my own experience, it appeared as if half of my kids’ caloric intake came from a bottle or cup during those critical formative years. The law will go a long way towards reducing infant and toddler exposures to a harmful chemical.

With the American Chemistry Council lobbying successfully against the bill over the last few years, Sen. Fran Pavley hadn’t quite able to get a similar bill to the finish line. But this year Pavley partnered with Butler. With the support of the environmental and health communities (Environmental Working Group and Physicians for Social Responsibility were co-sponsors), Butler was able to overcome opposition to pass the bill through both houses. The campaign marked an incredible display of effective environmental leadership by the freshman assemblymember, formerly a long-time environmental leader with the California League of Conservation Voters.

Although epoxy resins used in coatings for food and beverage cans still contain BPA, Butler’s successful leadership will result in the elimination of the greatest health concern: BPA exposure to infants and toddlers.  As we know, infants and toddlers may cry a lot, but they can’t exactly stand up to the plastic industry.  As a parent, I’m thankful Butler was there this year to do it for them.

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