The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics recently released a special issue featuring articles generated by the 2012 Public Health Law Conference. Leila Barraza, Deputy Director of the Network’s Western Region, authored “A New Approach for Regulating Bisphenol A (BPA) for the Protection of the Public’s Health,” exploring the health risks and current regulations related to BPA, a chemical agent found in many everyday products, including canned goods and plastic food containers. In this Q&A, she gives an introduction to her article and how it addresses a critical public health issue.
Q: Why is this topic so critical right now?
A: BPA exposure is linked to a variety of adverse health effects, such as obesity and diabetes. To protect the public’s health - especially the health of vulnerable fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women - BPA regulations should encompass products intended specifically for these populations.
Even with tremendous public outcry against the use of BPA, current federal restrictions do not reach far enough. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently banned the use of BPA in children's sippy cups and baby bottles, but failed to address its inclusion in canned infant formula or plastic tableware.
Q: How does your article address this issue and its challenges?
A: The article identifies the link between BPA exposure and a number of health problems and explains why its effects are most detrimental to children, infants and fetuses. Strong public outcry, along with multiple class action lawsuits, have prompted federal, state, and local governments to take steps to regulate the manufacture and sale of BPA. The article describes many of the existing laws and policies and addresses current regulatory limitations.
Q: Are there areas of opportunity?
A: Yes – there are alternatives to BPA, and manufacturers need to pursue development and utilization of these alternatives.
Q: How do laws and policies make an impact?
A: Although individual companies have committed to a “phase-out” of BPA in canned goods, suitable alternative products are not yet readily available. If the U.S. Congress and state legislatures continue to fail to adequately regulate BPA, then FDA and EPA must take more aggressive action. An effective model for future legislation and regulation could be the law in the state of Connecticut, which includes a ban on BPA not only in reusable food and beverage containers, but also in thermal receipt paper. This should be further expanded to include disposable food and beverage containers, tableware, pacifiers, teethers, food container lids, canned foods and beverages, toys, and medical devices.
Read the full article here.
The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state. The views expressed in this post do not represent those of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.