30 November 2010

Children’s health and safety advocates urge PH to follow EU ban on toxic chemical in feeding bottles

Quezon City. The Save Babies Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition today urged the authorities to take its cue from the European Union (EU) in banning a health-damaging chemical known as bisphenol A or BPA in plastic baby bottles.

The two citizens’ coalitions specifically asked President Benigno S. Aquino III and Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona to issue an executive ban against BPA as “early Christmas gift” to Filipino babies and children.

The European Commission announced last week a regional ban on polycarbonate plastic infant bottles containing BPA, an industrial chemical, effective March 2011 in EU’s 27 member countries.

“We applaud EU’s region-wide ban on BPA-laced baby bottles and call upon the Aquino government to do the same in the greater interest of safeguarding our kids’ health,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“May the ban on BPA be P-Noy’s and Sec. Ona’s early Christmas gift to our babies and children, our future, who are most susceptible to toxic harm,” said Ines Fernandez of the Save Babies Coalition, who likewise reminded mothers to exclusively breastfeed for six months and keep on breastfeeding for two years and beyond for health benefits, including higher IQ and emotional security.

BPA, a chemical used in polycarbonate baby bottles and in epoxy resins for canned foods and beverages, has been linked to reproductive and developmental problems, including disrupting the body’s hormonal system.

Researchers had confirmed that BPA migrates from plastic containers such as feeding bottles into their contents, contaminat.

Aside from the EU, Canada and some US states like Connecticut and Minnesota had introduced policies banning BPA for public health and safety, especially for food and drink containers for children below three years.

In line with the precautionary principle, the EcoWaste Coalition and Save Babies Coalition also urged the government to consider imposing a total ban on BPA in all food packaging.

“Some companies have already switched to non-BPA linings for their products, so it's possible to get BPA out of food packaging,” the groups said.

The EU-based Health and Environmental Alliance (HEAL) had earlier said that the ban should be for “all food packaging for infants under 3 years old - and it should quickly be extended to all food packaging because, if babies during pregnancy are to be protected, consumption by women of child-bearing age should be avoided."

While the ban on BPA is not yet in place, the groups advised consumers to take precaution to reduce exposure to BPA, including avoiding polycarbonate plastic containers, usually marked “PC” or the number “7” and opting for safer alternatives such as glass, ceramics or stainless steel.

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