Protecting Our Children From BPA

BlogHer Original Post

It's great to be here among the vibrant BlogHer community. As many of you know, I'm a Mom with two little boys at home and I consider it my duty to be a voice for parents in Washington to fight for and to protect kids in whatever way I can. Whether it’s keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, improving access to affordable, quality child care, making sure the meat delivered to school cafeterias is safe or keeping harmful chemicals out of our drinking water, my number one priority is the well being of our children.

Which is why I was so disturbed by a recent study by Consumer Reports that revealed that a dangerous chemical called bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA, has been found in a wide range of common products used by children – such as baby bottles, canned formula and canned food.

Even more shocking is that, according to the study, BPA has been found in humans at levels higher than previously thought and in food with containers advertised as BPA free.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which can mimic the body's own hormones, and the adverse health effects of BPA on women and children, particularly pregnant women and infants, can be extremely serious. According to a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, BPA is potentially dangerous to human development and reproduction. More than 100 published studies have shown possible links to breast cancer, obesity and neurological disorders. Even low-level exposure to BPA may impact neural development and behavior, and lead to early puberty in girls.

Allowing our children to continue to be broadly exposed to this harmful chemical is unacceptable. The time to ban BPA from food and beverage packaging marketed to kids is now.

Like all parents, I expect to have faith and confidence that the products my family consumes are safe. This study shook that confidence and inspired me to take action. Last month, I was proud to join with my colleague Senator Chuck Schumer to announce the BPA-Free Kids Act – legislation that would protect infants and toddlers from the health risks from BPA by banning this chemical from products such as baby bottles, sippy cups, bowls, plates and utensils used by children ages three and under.

In 2008, Canada became the first country in the world to ban plastic baby bottles with bisphenol A. If Canada can do it, so can we.

Through testing standards, product labeling requirements, and stiff penalties, along with additional research into BPA, this legislation would result in a great step forward towards ensuring the health of our most vulnerable.

But we can’t stop there. The Consumer Reports study showed alarming BPA levels in a range of canned foods – including green beans, tuna fish, and soups. In response, Senator Schumer and I are co-sponsoring legislation with Senator Diane Feinstein that would permanently ban BPA from all food and beverage containers, including canned food. 

The U.S. has a great history of taking steps to safeguard children – banning lead in toys, mandatory use of car seats, and requirements for non-flammable sleepwear -- and we should take action on this issue as well.  We cannot and should not stand by when serious risk is suspected only to be proven we should have acted sooner.  When we ignore product risk, we are not giving parents and consumers the ability to make informed choices.  Parents want the best for their children and should not have to find out later that their best intentions were not good enough due to government inaction. 

As the mother of two young boys, I understand that there is no greater duty than to protect those who are unable to protect themselves.  To that end, as a Member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and the Senate Subcommittee on Toxics and Environmental Health, I am focused on using my position to advance policy to protect our families and our environmental from harmful chemicals.

From comprehensively studying pharmaceuticals in our drinking water, to studying carcinogens in baby products, to protecting our children from the harmful effects of bisphenol-A, I pledge to continue to fight to assure that our children are afforded every opportunity to grow up safe and healthy.

Please join me and become a citizen co-sponsor of this important legislation today.

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