Turning the BPA ship around

Look at the plastic containers in your home. Does it have the number 3 or 7 stamped on it? There may well be BPA in it. All those PVC pipes replacing copper in your water system? PVC is a 3.

When something deemed essential becomes dangerous it is still difficult to turn the ship of policy around.

This was true with asbestos. It was true with cigarettes. It will be true of BPA as well.

BPA is an essential plasticizer. It is easy to make and leaves plastic both supple and strong. And it's everywhere -- not just in baby bottles but in dental fillings, on DVDs, and in the linings of nearly all food and beverage containers.

You can replace it with PET film -- Mylar is one trade name for it -- but that is going to take time and cost a lot of money.

So far only the Japanese have begun that process.

Look at the plastic containers in your home. Does it have the number 3 or 7 stamped on it? There may well be BPA in it. All those PVC pipes replacing copper in your water system? PVC is a 3.

So the FDA is starting with the easy stuff. Baby bottles. And it's not yet saying toss them. It's saying, toss the scratched ones.

Saying "baby bottles" in the material regulatory field is like saying "terrorism" or "child porn" in other areas of law enforcement. It's a first step toward something larger.

The American Chemistry Council knows this. So it's going ballistic over the rubbery baby bottle ruling. Case not proven, you're scaring the parents, they say.

It's going to cost money. It's going to hurt the economy. Well, yes.

But when a government agency starts saying "think of the babies," the handwriting is on the wall. Canada and Japan are already on the march against BPA. Europe is moving.

The time for a hard line is passed. The time for managing the transition is here.