Bill authorizes study, not ban of BPA

May 10, 2011

A May 2, 2011 letter to the editor mischaracterizes a bill awaiting Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature on the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). The bill does not, as stated, ban infant formula infant formula and baby food packaging that contains more than 0.5 parts per billion (ppb) of BPA. Instead, the bill calls for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to deliver a report to the General Assembly next year on federal research and regulatory activities related to BPA, specifically addressing the availability and safety of substitutes for BPA used in containers for infant formula. Under the bill, restrictions on BPA will not take effect if the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene finds that such restrictions would adversely affect health.

As the department testified during hearings on the bill, there is a substantial federal research effort underway to clarify questions that have been raised about the safety of BPA for young children. There are also ongoing efforts to assess the safety and effectiveness of alternatives to BPA, which will be important to assure the safety of the food supply if BPA is banned from packaging in these products.

In short, the bill recognizes the complexity of this challenging issue.

Clifford S. Mitchell, Baltimore

The writer is an assistant director for environmental health and food protection with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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