By STEPHANIE HOOPS
Scripps Howard News Service
May 22, 2007
"If I had known there was any chance that chemicals could get into the bottles, I would have switched to glass, of course," she said.
Fueled by a confluence of bad publicity surrounding the plastics used in baby bottles, the demand for glass bottles is going through the roof. In recent weeks, glass bottles have been a top-selling baby product on Amazon.com.
The alarm was raised in a report "Toxic Baby Bottles" by the Environment California Research and Policy Center, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. That report was followed by a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles seeking class-action status and legislative activity.
Environment California's report was released in February and said bisphenol A, a hormone-disrupting chemical that mimics the sex hormone estrogen, leaches from clear, plastic baby bottles into liquids.
It noted that scientists have linked exposure to very low doses of bisphenol A to cancers, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes and hyperactivity.
But scientists disagree that the chemical poses a health risks to humans. At the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va., Steve Hentges said Environment California is perpetuating a "scare story."
"It's definitely a scare story that's being propagated by Environment California presumably to promote legislation to ban products that have been shown safe for use around the world," he said. He cited a study released in January from the European Food Safety Authority.
"They provided a very reassuring message on the safety of bisphenol A," he said. "And that's just the most recent evaluation of that type."
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also conducted a health-risk study that determined that children were not at risk from plastic toys.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 95 percent of Americans have detectable levels of bisphenol A in their bodies.
After Environment California's report came out, a lawsuit was filed in March in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking class action status. The suit names the manufacturers and retailers who have sold the bottles.
The lawsuit claims the manufacturers and retailers have known for some time that they were exposing the public to a serious risk of harm, and deliberately ignoring the studies because they would hurt their business interests.
Last summer, San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the country to ban bisphenol A and phthalates in toys and certain child care products. Maryland and New York are considering similar legislation.
Phthalates are chemicals that increase the flexibility and prolong the durability of plastics. They are used in hundreds of products, including vinyl flooring, adhesives, plastic bags, food packaging, inflatable recreational toys and children's toys.
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