Bills would ban products with 2 chemicals in Md.

Compounds used in baby bottles, canned food linings, TV cabinets

February 03, 2010|By Timothy B. Wheeler

Lawmakers in Annapolis are being asked to ban products containing two chemicals that have triggered serious concerns about toxicity.

On Tuesday afternoon, the House Health and Government Operations Committee aired HB33, which would ban the sale, manufacture or distribution of children's toys or child-care articles such as baby bottles made with bisphenol-A, or BPA. The bill, sponsored by Del. Jim Hubbard, a Prince George's County Democrat, would prohibit it by Jan. 10, 2011.

The plastic has been widely used as a lining in canned foods and some plastic water and baby bottles.

For years, the Food and Drug Administration maintained it was safe, but amid growing scientific evidence of potential harm, the agency last month reversed course and declared concern about the effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children. The agency is pushing to end the use of BPA in baby bottles and infant feeding cups and is pressing for safer alternatives to line canned formula and other foods.

Chemical industry trade groups oppose the state legislation, its sponsor noted, but he believes it's necessary.

"I don't want to depend on the federal government," Hubbard said Tuesday. "I want to defend my own citizens."

Connecticut and Minnesota already have banned BPA in certain children's products, according to legislative analysts, and 18 states last year weighed legislation to curtail the plastic. Meanwhile, several major retailers have begun phasing out the use of BPA, including Walmart, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us.

On Feb. 10, the House Environmental Matters Committee will hear another Hubbard bill, HB35, which would ban the sale of products containing brominated flame retardants. Decabromodiphenyl ether, or decaBDE, is used in a wide variety of plastic products, including television cabinets and other electronics, in wire insulation, and in draperies and upholstered furniture.

Hubbard has pressed for a ban before, but his bill failed to pass.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency, citing concerns that exposure to decaBDE may cause cancer and impair brain function, announced an agreement with chemical manufacturers to phase out its use by 2013. Hubbard reintroduced the bill this year, seeking to ban it in Maryland by January 2011.


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