Schenectady County

Schenectady County Legislature sets hearing on plastics chemical ban

The Schenectady County Legislature will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday on a proposed local

The Schenectady County Legislature will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday on a proposed local law to ban the sale of baby bottles and other children’s products containing the chemical bisphenol A.

County Legislator Angelo Santabarbara, R-Rotterdam, a co-sponsor of the measure, said he is happy to see the Legislature considering the ban.

Dr. Brian Gordon, D-Niskayuna, chairman of the Health Committee, also a co-sponsor of the measure, said he has concerns about BPA, especially for children, and its potential link to diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

If the Legislature approves the law later that night as expected, Schenectady County will become the latest municipality in New York to ban the chemical. BPA is used in the production of polycarbonate plastic, a clear and rigid plastic. It also is used the epoxy resins that line the inside of most food and beverage cans.

County Attorney Chris Gardner said the law will help protect babies and children and will not unduly burden the commercial sector.

“It only deals with empty containers and does not get into the manufacturing of every food product in the world,” he said.

Schenectady’s proposed law would affect only children’s beverage containers, not food and beverage cans. It would prevent sale within the county of unfilled bottles, cups, cup lids, straws and other containers meant to be used by children younger than 3 that contain BPA.

The county Department of Health would enforce the proposed law, which would take effect 90 days after it is filed with the office of the secretary of state. The penalty for violations would be a $500 fine for the first incident and up to $1,000 for subsequent cases.

Critics contend that BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical that leaches into liquids.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the chemical is safe, a position supported by the chemical industry. Some bottle makers, however, have voluntarily stopped using the plastic because of growing concern over BPA.

Santabarbara, who proposed the ban in March, said he was happy to work with Democrats, who control the Legislature, in getting the measure to the floor.

“I think it is fine; I think it is a good compromise,” he said. “It is both sides working together to accomplish something for our residents. I wish more legislation would work this way.”

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