Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand want to ban the chemical bisphenol-A from food and beverage containers used by infants and toddlers. The two senators from New York announced new legislation yesterday to ban BPA from common products used by children and pregnant women.

BPA is a chemical used to make plastics clear and shatter-resistant. It's commonly found in baby products such as bottles and teething rings as well as in in the linings of cans and adult water bottles. A recent Consumer Reports study showed that BPA is now being used in a wider range of products and consumables in higher concentrations than thought before. 

Despite objections from the chemical industry, the majority of scientific studies show that BPA may pose major health risks because its ability to mimic estrogen can affect reproduction and neural development. Infants and toddlers have the highest risk because they have the highest level of exposure at a time when risks to reproduction and neural development are the greatest.

Another recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 95 percent of Americans tested have BPA levels at or above levels that cause abnormalities in animals. It's this combination of information that is finally leading to some action on Capital Hill.

“This [Consumer Reports] study adds to the mounting evidence that BPA is not only harmful for our children but for an overwhelming majority of Americans,” Sen. Schumer said in a press briefing concerning the impending BPA legislation. “We have to worry because manufacturers are still using this chemical widely, and it’s getting into our foods,” Schumer said.

Sen. Gillibrand added, "As the mother of two young boys, I expect to have faith and confidence that the products my family consumes are safe ... But this report sheds light on the extent of potential exposure to this harmful chemical. Allowing Americans to continue to be this broadly exposed to potentially dangerous levels of BPA is unacceptable.”

The new bill, the BPA-Free Kids Act, would prohibit the manufacture and sale of food and beverage containers composed of BPA for infants and toddlers. Children’s foods and beverages made of BPA would be labeled “banned hazardous substances” under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.