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Resulting Legislation

Public Act No. 09-103 An Act Concerning Banning Bisphenol-A in Children's Products and Food Products

Summary

The plastics problem is growing in scale and complexity due to a collision of factors, including government neglect of the importance of endocrine disruption; the explosive growth of the U.S. and international plastics industry; the absence of any plastic ingredient and source labeling requirements; nearly complete recycling failure for PVC and polycarbonate plastics; environmental contamination of air, water, soils, oceans, fish and wildlife; nearly universal human exposure to BPA and DEHP from food and beverages in high income nations; the dependence of the plastics industry on petroleum; and government failure to require health and environmental testing prior to chemical production, sale, and disposal. Collectively, these pose a serious challenge to the environment and human health.

Overview

Nearly 100 billion pounds of plastic are produced in the United States each year. Plastics are now heavily used in food and beverage packaging, building products, electrical wiring, vehicles, furniture, toys, and medical devices. Plastics now comprise nearly 70% of the synthetic chemical industry in the nation. Two plastic ingredients, bisphenol A (BPA) and Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), are the subject of this report because of increasing evidence that they disrupt normal growth and development in many different species of animals due to their hormonal activity. The production of BPA has increased steadily since the 1990s, from about 16 million pounds per year in the early 1990s to nearly 2.3 billion pounds in 2007. It is used in the manufacture of clear, hard polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. More than 200 million pounds of DEHP are produced annually, most of which is added to polyvinyl chloride plastics (PVC). Both chemicals are used to package food and contain beverages, and they are found in surface and ground water, the oceans, fish, food, and many consumer products. BPA and DEHP have been detected in the blood and urine of nearly everyone who has been tested. Each compound is commonly found in human breast milk, and both cross the placenta and the blood-brain barrier. The youngest children tested in the U.S. carry the highest concentrations of these molecules or their metabolites in their tissues.

Both chemicals are hormonally active in test animals: BPA mimics estrogen, and DEHP blocks testosterone. Studies in humans are limited, but several have found effects also detected in animal experiments. The study of their environmental influence on human health is exceptionally difficult due to confounding exposures, the lag time between exposure and changes in health, and the need to reconstruct histories of exposure that occurred long ago. A growing number of government-sponsored scientists believe that effects found in animals may plausibly occur in humans, while manufacturers’ scientists vigorously defend their claims of chemical safety. These government-sponsored studies have found that BPA is biologically active at exceptionally small doses in some animals, altering normal patterns of growth and development of a variety of organ systems and functions. Although the U.S. government has authority under several federal statutes to regulate or prohibit the production, use, sale, and disposal of both chemicals, BPA remains virtually unregulated, while DEHP is ineffectively regulated. This is well demonstrated by the chemicals’ presence in human tissues. Prior to intense industrial production, use, and environmental release, neither chemical was tested to understand its behavior in the environment or its risk to human health. At present, no legal mechanism is in place at any level of government to assure warning or protection against exposure to these molecules. This report presents a summary of potential health risks associated with BPA and DEHP, patterns of exposure among women, children and others, and policy recommendations designed to reduce or prevent exposure among susceptible populations.

 

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