"The case [against BPA] has grown more compelling, [and] when California does something, it tends to spread across the nation," says Mary Lynne Vellinga, spokeswoman for Democratic state Sen. Fran Pavley, who cosponsored the bill.
But industry groups say the claim that it's harmful to humans is overblown and unsubstantiated. The amount of BPA in consumer goods is so minuscule that it wouldn't pose any health risks, they say.
"These are old materials that have been around for 50 years or so," says Steve Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council, a trade group. "There truly is a global consensus that bisphenol A is not a human health concern.... There is no scientific basis for any of these bills."
The amount found in most Americans, he says, is "1,000 times below" what European regulators have determined as safe levels for BPA. "Exposure is not only extremely low, it is not even remotely close to the level of concern."
The European Food Safety Authority recently found that a study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association that connected BPA concentrations with medical problems in adults was too inconclusive to act on. Canada, however, has banned baby bottles made with BPA because of "the uncertainty raised in some studies related to the potential effects of low levels of bisphenol A."
Concerns about BPA got a fillip last month with a study by the Harvard School of Public Health that concluded BPA from clear polycarbonate water bottles leaches into the human body. After 77 Harvard students drank from polycarbonate bottles for a week, the concentration of BPA in their urine increased by 69 percent.