Proposed bans on BPA, formaldehyde raise case for federal action

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Minnesota would add two more chemicals to a list of items kept out of children’s personal care products and food containers.

Bills passed by the House on Friday would ban Bisphenol-A and formaldehyde in children’s products and the debate raised demand from some legislators to approach chemical bans uniformly at the federal level.

Bisphenol-A, more commonly known as BPA, is already banned in baby bottles and “sippy cups,” but it can still be used by manufacturers to line cans and lids to protect foods from spoiling. The House passed HF459 on a vote of 115-11 on Friday which would add to the list of BPA-banned containers.

The bill defines a container as a box, can, jar, lid or other receptacle that has direct contact with children’s food.

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights), the bill moves to the Senate where Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport) is the sponsor.

Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) said she would support the bill but “when we get into sort of state by state regulation by chemical, it’s very difficult for businesses that operate across multiple states in our nation to grapple with compliance.”

Atkin’s bill was heard on the heels of another bill passed by the House to ban formaldehyde in children’s personal care products.

Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji) sponsors HF458, which would ban manufacturers from intentionally adding formaldehyde to personal care products for children younger than 8 years old. Products targeted include baby shampoos, bubble bath and other lotions or gels applied to children. Pharmaceutical products and toys are not included in the proposed ban.

Passed by the House 113-13 on Friday, the Persell bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) is the sponsor.

“Wouldn’t it be better to handle this at a federal level so that all states have the same requirements?” asked Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers).

“Yeah it would be nice if we could do a lot of things at the federal level, I would argue. Minnesota is a little more progressive at looking at protecting children’s health, ” Persell said in response.

The ban on selling children’s personal care products containing formaldehyde would begin Aug. 1, 2015, so that businesses have time to get the products off their shelves, Persell said.