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Hawaiʻi’s Toxin-Free Keiki Act

By: Alexa Gutierrez

13 April 2020

An industrial chemical that is used in many household plastics and food packages intended for children will be banned in Hawaiʻi beginning next year.


Bisphenol A, also referred to as BPA, is a chemical that is used in packaging and plastic bottles.  BPA in packaging materials often transfers to its contained liquids and foods.


Children are more susceptible to illness and disability when exposed to BPA. Conditions such as asthma, diseases such as cancer, and developmental disabilities are linked to exposure to this toxic substance. The state has passed a law to protect Hawaiʻiʻs children from exposure to BPA.


Beginning January 1, 2021 no person or entity shall manufacture, sell, or distribute in the state any child care article that contains bisphenol A and is intended for use by a child under three years of age.


In July 2012, the United States Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in infant feeding bottles and spill-proof cups known as sippy cups, including their closures and lids, by amending title 21 Code of Federal Regulations.  This decision was made in response to a petition that the American Chemistry Council filed because manufacturers had stopped using bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy cups.  


For decades, federal law regulating everyday chemicals was weak and outdated. The Toxic Substances Control Act allowed companies to sell and use chemicals without showing they're safe, until June 2016 when President Obama signed the Lautenberg Act, which finally reformed the 40-year-old law. Unfortunately, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, EPA leadership under the Trump administration began to weaken implementation of the new Act. 


The Toxin-Free Keiki Act promotes the health and safety of children by prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and distribution of reusable food and drink containers containing BPA and intended for use by young children.


Now, the federal regulation does not ban the use of BPA in other products, which can include baby formula containers. The Hawaiʻi Legislature intends to significantly reduce and eliminate children's exposure to BPA altogether.

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