It’s Unanimous: Board of Environmental Protection Formalizes Decision on BPA

Hormone-disrupting chemical to be phased out of baby food packaging

(AUGUSTA) After seven months of public hearings, scientific presentations, and technical analysis, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection voted unanimously this morning to replace the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, in infant formula and baby food packaging with safer alternatives. Now the rule will go to the Maine Legislature for review.

"BPA is a known hormone disruptor that has no place at the dinner table," said Tracy Gregoire with the Learning Disabilities Association of Maine. "The evidence for action on BPA is crystal clear – BPA harms children; food is major source of exposure to BPA; and safer alternatives are available and affordable. We are grateful to the Board for following the science and protecting Maine babies from BPA in their food."

In June 2012, almost 900 registered Maine voters, as well as medical and public health organizations, petitioned the Board to take action on BPA in children’s food packaging. Today's vote marks the end of the Board’s role in deciding the fate of that citizen-initiated proposal to get BPA out of infant formula, baby food, and also toddler food packaging. It also marks the first time the Board has ever adopted a citizen-initiated rule.

In public deliberations, Board members expressed frustration that they couldn’t do more to protect older children as well as babies in the womb from BPA, but that a loophole in the Kid-Safe Products Act prevents them from going further.

"A loophole in the current law creates a dangerous and arbitrary line for determining which kids will be protected from toxic chemicals in their food and which ones won't," said Steve Taylor, Program Manager for the Environmental Health Strategy Center. "This is a serious problem that needs fixing. We hope the Legislature will act quickly on the Board’s concerns and close the loopholes that prevent BPA-free food for children of all ages."

Kathy Kilrain del Rio, Communications Coordinator for the Maine Women’s Policy Center, added, "There is overwhelming bipartisan support and momentum for protecting children from the dangers of BPA. We’re confident the Maine Legislature will continue to stand up for Maine kids and families."

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

Posted on 1/24/2013 (Archive on 2/14/2013)