LePage urged to ‘follow the medical science on BPA’

Carol Kelly, 210-0789
January 16, 2013

(AUGUSTA) With a critical Board of Environmental Protection meeting just one day away, the Governor and his administration continue to draw fire for their opposition to a citizen-initiated proposal to replace the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, in baby and toddler food packaging.

Dr. Steve Feder, President of the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics sent a pointed letter to the Governor this morning, reminding the Governor of the known scientific evidence that supports the Board taking action to remove BPA in food packaging for young children.

In the letter Feder states, “As a practicing pediatrician, I was encouraged to see your quote in the Portland Press Herald on January 13th stating, ‘If there is a scientific reason to take BPA off the shelves, I will support it.’ I was then disappointed and troubled to learn of your administration’s current stance on this issue.”

In a January 3rd memo to the Board, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommended against the proposal, but cited research that the pediatric organization and other public health professionals say actually supports the replacement of BPA. In the 2009 study, scientists sampled 122 jars of baby food and were able to get results on 99 of those jars. The results confirmed the presence of BPA in all 99 samples. BPA may have been present in the other 23 samples but the type of food interfered with the testing procedure.

Feder stated in his letter, “The Department of Environmental Protection inaccurately cited this study as evidence that Maine babies were not exposed to BPA.”

The same mixed message was delivered on the question of safer alternatives. In a report released last month, the DEP’s own expert contractor, TechLaw LLC, found that safer BPA-free packaging was widely available for baby food, including plastic containers, aseptic cartons, and laminated pouches.

Feder added, “All of the scientific and legal criteria have been met under Maine law to prohibit the sale of baby food packaging that contains BPA. We know that BPA harms the developing brain of children – the top scientific experts at the Maine Centers for Disease Control have validated these findings. We know that Maine babies are exposed to BPA from baby food jars, and we know that safer alternatives are widely available. Governor LePage, please follow the medical science on BPA.”

The recommendations of the DEP are only advisory. The Board of Environmental Protection must make the final decision on the proposed rule. They will meet again on Thursday, January 17th to discuss the baby food issue, and plan to take a final vote on a rule on January 24th. After the Board provisionally adopts a BPA rule at the end of this month, the Maine Legislature must review and authorize its final adoption later during the legislative session.

The complete letter from Dr. Feder to Governor LePage can be found at http://www.preventharm.org/Images/648/SteveFederLettertoGovernorLePage.docx

The letter also appears here.

BACKGROUND:

In July 2011, the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics joined with moms and health professionals from across Maine to submit almost 900 signatures to the Board of Environmental Protection to end the use of BPA in infant formula, baby food and canned food for toddlers in favor of safer alternatives.

Studies show that one of the most common paths of exposure to BPA is through food. Young children are exposed to BPA when the chemical leaks from the inner lining of canned foods, including infant formula, and the metal lids of glass jars, including baby food. It is estimated that BPA exposure could be reduced by two thirds if food packaging were BPA-free (Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate Exposure: Findings from a Dietary Intervention).

State and federal health agencies are concerned that BPA will harm brain development, cause behavior problems and adversely affect the prostate. BPA has also been linked to cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

Maine declared BPA a “priority chemical” under the Kid-Safe Products Act in 2010, when the Board found that BPA is clearly harmful to children based on extensive scientific evidence. At that time, the Board required that BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups, and other reusable food and beverage containers by replaced with safer alternatives. That phase out was approved almost unanimously by the Maine Legislature and went into effect on January 1, 2012.

The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine is a coalition of over 50 public health, medical, parent, community, women’s, worker, environmental, and public interest organizations dedicated to protecting public health and the environment by replacing unnecessary dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives.

Posted on 1/16/2013 (Archive on 2/6/2013)