Washington state is about to join a growing list of local governments taking Bisphenol A (BPA) regulation into their own hands.

Both chambers of the Washington state legislature have passed bills that would ban the use of BPA, a chemical used to make plastic, in food and drink containers intended for children ages 3 and younger, in an effort to limit exposure to children during critical stages of development.

Washington would be the third state to ban BPA in some products, behind Minnesota and Connecticut. Oregon and Maryland legislatures are currently considering similar regulations.

BPA–which has been used for over forty years in plastic products ranging from baby bottles to sippy cups to the lining of tin cans–is now found in an overwhelming majority of Americans. Studies have also found the chemical in 90 percent of infant cord blood and in most canned foods. 

Recent research has linked BPA to disruptions in the endocrine system, an issue that can cause reproductive, neurological, and behavioral problems, causing a growing number of consumer and health advocates to push for greater regulation of the chemical’s use in food containers.

After missing three deadlines to make a decision on the safety of BPA, the U.S. Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) recently announced that while it has “some

concern” about the safety of the chemical it won’t be taking regulatory

action until more research is conducted.

In 2008, near the end of the Bush Administration, the FDA conducted a toxicology review of the chemical and maintained that foods containing low levels of the chemical were safe, but new research and increased public concern has caused the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA to reevaluate the safety of the chemical.

While the federal government continues to delay making a hard decision on the safety of BPA, HHS recently released tips for

parents to minimize infant exposure to the chemical.

The government is also launching a $30

million interagency research initiative to review BPA safety over the

next 18 to 24 months.