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Originally published Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 9:19 PM

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FDA ban on baby-bottle chemical now on the books

Manufacturers have already stopped using the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups, and the FDA said that its decision was a response to a request by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry's main trade association, that rules allowing BPA in those products be phased out, in part to boost consumer confidence.

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What took so long? Oh right - big corporate lobbyists want to save half a cent per can... MORE

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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that baby bottles and children's drinking cups could no longer contain bisphenol A, or BPA, an estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical used in some plastic bottles and food packaging.

Manufacturers have already stopped using the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups, and the FDA said that its decision was a response to a request by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry's main trade association, that rules allowing BPA in those products be phased out, in part to boost consumer confidence.

But the ban does not apply more broadly to the use of BPA in other containers, said an FDA spokesman, Steven Immergut, who emphasized that the decision did not amount to a reversal of the agency's position on the chemical.

The FDA declared BPA safe in 2008 but began expressing concerns about possible health risks in 2010.

"Today's action is based on industry's abandonment of these uses of BPA," Immergut said. "The agency continues to support the safety of BPA for use in products that hold food."

BPA has been used since the 1960s to make hard plastic bottles, cups for toddlers and the linings of food and beverage cans, including those used to hold infant formula and soda.

Until recently, it was used in baby bottles, but major manufacturers are now making bottles without it. Plastic items containing BPA are generally marked with a 7 on the bottom for recycling purposes.

The chemical can leach into food, and a study of more than 2,000 people found that more than 90 percent of them had BPA in their urine. Traces have also been found in breast milk, the blood of pregnant women and umbilical-cord blood.

Reports of potential health effects have made BPA notorious, especially among parents, and led to shunning of products thought to contain the chemical.

"Consumers can be confident that these products do not contain BPA," FDA spokesman Allen Curtis said in a statement, adding that the agency's action was based on the bottle industry's phase out of the chemical. "The agency continues to support the safety of BPA for use in products that hold food."

Earlier this year the agency denied a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council which would have banned the use of BPA in all food containers. The agency said it is awaiting results from federally funded studies on the safety of BPA.

Public-safety advocates said Tuesday that FDA's action would have little impact, since the BPA-containing products are no longer in use.

"Once again, the FDA has come so late to the party that the public and the marketplace have already left," said Jason Rano, of the Environmental Working Group, which is pushing for a BPA ban in cans of infant formula, food and beverages.

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