Legislation banning plastic baby bottles and sippy cups containing the controversial chemical bisphenol-A is on track to make Washington the first state to prohibit the products.

Similar versions of the Safe Baby Bottle Act sailed through the Senate Committee on Health & Long-Term Care, the House Committee on Environmental Health and the House General Government Appropriations Committee.

On March 5, the full House approved the measure on a 76-21 vote. The Senate version, SSB 5282, is currently with the Rules Committee.

“The writing is on the wall with bisphenol,” said Ivy Sager Rosenthal, campaign director at the Washington Toxics Coalition. “A lot of people are concerned about it and don’t want it in their products.”

Opponents of the bill, including the chemical industry, the Northwest Grocery Association and the Association of Washington Business, say health concerns about bisphenol-A, or BPA, have been overblown and that there are no good alternatives for some of its uses.

BPA has been used in making plastics for more than 50 years. It is most widely used in making clear, shatter-resistant containers and as a nonstick epoxy lining for cans containing food and beverages.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has made no move to ban the substance. After a review last year the agency issued a statement concluding that “current levels of exposure to BPA through food and packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and babies.”

Consumer groups, including the Toxics Coalition, say the FDA is relying on studies sponsored by the chemical industry and has not paid enough attention to more than 100 other studies linking BPA to health effects in animals, including cancer and reproductive abnormalities.

As proposed, Washington’s law would apply to “any bottle, cup or other container that contains bisphenol-A if that container is designed or intended to be filled with any liquid, food or beverage primarily for consumption from that container by children three years of age or younger.”

It also would apply to baby foods in containers using BPA and plastic water bottles.

Anybody knowingly selling the products could be fined $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 for each repeat offense.

The original story appeared in the Tacoma News Tribune.