Environmental advocates are celebrating a new law that takes effect Saturday that bans a toxic chemical from use in certain children's products.
The new law - the first in the nation - bans products containing bisphenol A, or BPA, which is used to harden plastic. As such, the chemical can no longer be used in reusable food and beverage containers, including containers of infant formula and baby food, reusable spill-proof cups, plastic sports bottles and Thermoses. The sports bottles sometimes carry the names of popular sports teams.
Signed by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2009, the law did not take effect immediately as businesses were given time to sell off their inventory of products and then make new products in time for the new law.
The narrowly written measure focuses mainly on products that would be used by children as opposed to the broader general public. It covers reusable products and not on beverage containers, jars and cans that are designed to be thrown away after a single use.
Anne Hulick, a nurse and attorney who serves as coordinator at the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut, said the state's law is the broadest ban in the nation that has "served as a national model'' on the issue. She noted that the manufacturers received notice about the law far in advance, and the word is out to ensure compliance.
While there is still a dispute in some quarters over the exact scientific effects of the chemical, proponents of the law said the chemical has been shown to cause breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, and miscarriages.
Despite advances in treatment, Hulick said that huge numbers of Americans continue dying each year from cancer. She added that there has been a ten-fold increase in autism over the past 15 years.
"We are not winning the war on cancer,'' she said. "We have come nowhere near in reducing the incidence of cancer.''
Following detailed debates in 2009, the state House of Representatives voted 135-0 after the state Senate had previously passed the bill, 35-1. An earlier version of the bill, which included a BPA-labeling requirement for containers not included in the ban, had passed the House by a vote of 128-14. But the Senate then amended the bill to eliminate the labeling requirement, so another House vote was needed.
Legislators said that 11 different lobbying firms spent more than $500,000 to battle unsuccessfully against the law.
"The lobbyists came up from Washington. We pushed them back,'' said Rep. Richard Roy, the co-chairman of the legislature's environment committee. "Many of the lobbyists and lawyers were hired from the tobacco industry, and we know how truthful they were there.''
Roy added that he hopes that children will always "be able to run barefoot in the grass'' that is free of chemicals.Copyright © 2015, CT Now