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Originally published Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 5:17 PM

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Protect children from hazardous chemicals

The federal Food and Drug Administration is rethinking its approval of the chemical bisphenol A, known as BPA. The Washington Legislature should pass legislation to phase out use of the chemical in baby bottles, drinking cups and plastic tableware used by children under age 3.

Washington lawmakers in 2008 acted to keep toys with toxic chemicals out of the hands of children. Apply the same good instincts to hazardous baby bottles, drinking cups and plastic tableware used by children.

Two amended bills have moved quickly through the Legislature. House Bill 1180 is up for a floor vote, and Senate Bill 6248 passed out of the Senate Committee on Health and Long-Term Care. The legislation focuses on children under age 3.

Enough serious doubts have been raised about the health effects of the chemical bisphenol A, known as BPA, to support phasing those products out of the marketplace. They could not be manufactured, sold or distributed after July 2011 in Washington.

Concerns about BPA received a jolt of electricity last week when the federal Food and Drug Administration announced it was rethinking its earlier approval of BPA. The agency said that new information from the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health has stirred "concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children."

The FDA will support industry actions to stop producing BPA-containing baby bottles and infant-feeding cups in the United States. As it expressed serious concerns, the agency also acknowledged its own 40-year-old regulatory rules complicate swift review and action. The FDA also will support development of alternatives to BPA for the linings of infant formula cans, and to replace or minimize its use in other food-can linings.

Scattered jurisdictions have acted to declare BPA a hazardous substance or outright ban its use. Washington legislators are taking a careful, measured step to phase out BPA in baby bottles, drinking cups and plastic tableware used by children.

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