Harmful BPA found in baby bottles, cups

By Ifham Nizam

International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) and Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) yesterday called for immediate national and global restrictions on the use of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in food and beverage containers intended for children, after studies in eight countries showed that the chemical was present in 76 out of the 98 feeding bottles and food containers analysed.

CEJ Project Planning and Management Officer/Instructor on chemical contamination Chalani Rubesinghe said two-thirds of the sampled bottles labelled as being BPA-free were found to contain the harmful chemical. BPA exposure is linked to several adverse health effects including cancer, fertility disorders, and sexual dysfunction both in men and women besides diabetes. BPA is legally identified as toxic in many countries and is categorised as an endocrine disruptor in the European Union.

Rubesinghe added: “We found that even the products were mislabelled as BPA-free. Manufacturers trick concerned parents into buying products that can harm their children. We need strict rules for labelling toxic chemicals in consumer products as well as a strong surveillance system to monitor their implementation.”

For the study, IPEN participating organisations in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania collected baby bottles, sippy cups, and other food contact products intended for children, which were then assessed for BPA to find out how much of the chemical that leached into liquid content. The two laboratories analyzing the bottles were the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, in the Czech Republic, and the Shiriram Institute for Industrial Research in New Delhi, India.

A number of countries, including EU member states, Malaysia, China, and Indonesia have restricted the use of BPA in baby bottles. However, IPEN found BPA present, and able to leach into liquid content, in 78% of the 98 products tested. One of the mislabelled samples violated Malaysia’s Food Regulations, as use and import of polycarbonate baby bottles with BPA is prohibited in that country.

“It is extremely concerning to find BPA, a toxic chemical with no safe exposure level, in products specifically designed for children. Also, we need to make sure that all bisphenol chemicals are banned as a group, to avoid regrettable substitution of one toxic chemical with another,” says IPEN Global Researcher Jitka Straková.


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