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Legislation to ban the use of chemical BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups squeaked through the state Senate today on a 21-12 vote.

Assembly Bill 1319, by Democratic Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, would prohibit the manufacturing, sale or distribution of bottles and other children's cups that are found to contain certain levels of bisphenol A. The chemical, commonly known as BPA, has come under scrutiny in recent years amid concerns over the potential effects exposure has on hormones and brain and development, particularly in young children and fetuses.

Supporters pointed out that 11 other states and several countries, including China, have approved bans on the chemical in similar products. They said while many companies now offer products that are BPA-free in response to consumer demand, a statewide ban would protect lower-income communities that may see fewer choices on the shelves.

"This bill protects the health and safety of children in everyone's neighborhood," said Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, an author of previous BPA legislation that failed to win passage.

Opponents raised concerns that the legislation would interfere with the mission of the California Green Chemistry Initiative, which created an administrative process to regulate harmful chemicals. Democratic Sen. Ron Calderon also questioned whether the bill's low threshold for BPA levels could expose manufacturers not intentionally using the chemical to "undue litigation costs."

"While manufactures can make bottles and sippy cups without BPA, they cannot guarantee the product will be BPA free because, as I mentioned, BPA is omnipresent," the Montebello Democrat said.

The bill, which calls for the ban to take effect in July 2013, will now return to the Assembly for consideration of amendments added in the Senate.


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