Plastic baby bottles found to be toxic

Photo: istockphoto.com/Henry Chaplin

A new study released by Environmental Defence found that 90 per cent of plastic baby bottles sold in Canada leach bisphenol A into infant formula, milk or other liquids being drunk by babies.

The chemical is a known hormone disruptor and is associated with adverse health effects, including breast and prostate cancer, early puberty in girls, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and obesity.

Ban is needed

In the tests, nine different polycarbonate bottles from three different major manufacturers were heated and lab results found leaching of bisphenol A with a range of 5-8 ng/ml (parts per billion). Recent scientific research shows that bisphenol A can be harmful at doses below the levels found in the study.

"Clearly, we are putting our babies' health at risk by using brand name plastic baby bottles," said Dr. Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. "The federal government must act immediately by banning bisphenol A from baby bottles and other food and beverage containers."

Top brands most dangerous
The study looked at three major brands of bottles: Gerber, Avent and Playtex. Avent had the highest level of leaching; Playtex brand baby bottles had the lowest. Even more disturbing: levels of bisphenol A leaching increased exponentially when the bottles were heated, with the Avent brand bottles showing the highest concentration.

"The only argument the chemical industry has left is that those levels aren't high enough to warrant concern, and there is no parent on God's green earth that is going to buy that argument," Smith said.

Tests were also conducted on baby bottles bought in the U.S. – Avent, Dr. Brown, Evenflo and Disney. The results were similar as those of bottles bought in Canada, with Dr. Brown bottles showing the highest concentration of bisphenol A after the bottles were heated.

Government responding -- slowly
Health Canada is currently conducting a safety review of bisphenol A as part of the federal government's Chemicals Management Plan, and will recommend whether to regulate the chemical in the coming months. In Ontario, the McGuinty government is creating an expert panel to review toxic chemicals, starting with bisphenol A, with a view to introducing stricter regulations to protect Ontarians' health. Environmental Defence is calling for a ban on the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles, reusable water bottles and all other food and beverage containers.

Change of mind
Originally both Health Canada and the U.S. FDA concluded bisphenol A didn't pose a risk. The FDA is now reviewing its findings after studies on mice and other animals have linked the chemical to cancer, reproductive problems, diabetes and learning development disorders.

"With so many scientific studies showing harm in low doses, there's no excuse for failing to act to protect children's health," said Dr. Kapil Khatter, Pollution Policy Advisor for Environmental Defence. "The absence of regulation is needlessly putting children's health at risk."

Environmental Defence is also encouraging retailers to stop selling products that contain bisphenol A. including plastic baby bottles. Both Mountain Equipment Co-op and Lululemon recently chose to take bisphenol A products off their shelves. Find safer alternatives in our article The healthy baby bottle.

The full study, Toxic Baby Bottles in Canada: Bisphenol A Leaching from Popular Brands of Polycarbonate Baby Bottles, is available to download for free on the Toxic Nation web site.