Chemical Controls

This January the Food and Drug Administration warned parents not to pour hot liquids into plastic baby bottles and also to discard bottles that get scratched. Otherwise, a potentially harmful chemical might leach out of the plastic. This warning was the agency’s first, tentative acknowledgment of an emerging scientific consensus: many widely used chemicals once deemed safe may not be.

But a warning was all the FDA could offer worried consumers. The agency does not have the power to force baby-bottle makers to stop using the chemical in question–bisphenol A, better known as BPA. Nor is the FDA alone. The Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator Lisa Jackson testified to Congress last September that her agency lacks the muscle to restrict the manufacture of BPA and other chemicals. The relevant law, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, is simply too weak. It must be strengthened.

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