The message from Maine moms was clear: “Get toxic bisphenol-A out of our baby bottles and infant formula cans”. Maine’s delegation to Washington will be receiving that message by U.S. Mail in the coming days, in a baby bottle made with bisphenol-A. Bisphenol-A, also known as BPA, is a hormone-disrupting chemical that is linked with breast cancer, obesity, immune system damage, genital defects in males, and early onset of puberty in girls, even at low doses. It is a widely used chemical and can be found in products like baby bottles, reusable water bottles, children’s toys, and the linings of food and beverage cans, including infant formula. There are no existing safety standards regulating BPA under U.S. laws.
Elisa Boxer-Cook, a parent from Scarborough, stated, “It’s outrageous that our babies are being exposed to toxic chemicals every time we heat their bottles. Perhaps the FDA and the companies that make BPA are hoping we moms are too busy to do our homework. Well, I’ve done mine and this is a toxic chemical I refuse to feed my child.”
Dr. James Melloh, a family practioner from Auburn and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility added, “We’re poisoning our kids and we don’t have to be. As with so many toxic chemicals in use today, there are safer alternatives to bisphenol-A. It would be irresponsible not to require their replacement.”
Maine mothers, doctors, public health professionals, and women’s advocates gathered at the Maine Post Office to postmark their “message in a bottle” to Senators Snowe and Collins, and Congressmen Allen and Michaud. At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was holding hearings in Washington DC on its controversial assessment that BPA poses no danger to humans. The FDA’s clean bill of health for BPA was based on two studies funded by the chemical industry. The assessment is in direct conflict with independent government-sponsored research and has met with outrage from public health professionals around the nation.
Michael Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center stated, “The FDA has chosen to play politics with the health of our babies, while ignoring the independent scientists who continue to raise alarm over the growing body of evidence linking bisphenol-A to serious health threats. Rather than fiddling while Rome burns, it’s time for our federal government to take preventative action to protect public health by replacing BPA with safer alternatives.”
Speakers urged Congress to follow Maine’s lead in finding solutions that protect public health. Maine recently passed landmark legislation that enables the state Department of Environmental Protection to identify chemicals of high concern and require their replacement when safer alternatives are available and affordable. Belliveau added, “This country’s chemical safety system is badly broken. It’s time to take Maine’s common-sense model to Washington. We’re counting on our members of Congress to do just that.
Sarah Standiford, Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, added, “There’s no more time for delays. Children and adults are exposed daily to the many toxic chemicals found in food and consumer products. We need Congress to fix our chemical safety system so we can protect kids, prevent disease, and bring down the cost of health care for everyone.”