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Lawsuits and legislation involving plastic water bottles are bubbling up across the country, with plaintiffs claiming a toxic chemical in the bottles could make people sick. The chemical in question is known as bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in polycarbonate bottles, CDs, DVDs and dental sealants. It has been linked to neurological and hormonal damage, and cancer. To date, the Food and Drug Administration has not deemed BPA unsafe, but in April it did form a task force to investigate new health concerns. Meanwhile, private lawsuits are rolling in. In California, a class action is pending against the makers of the Nalgene reusable sports bottle, claiming the company downplayed risks that BPA in its bottles could sicken consumers. Felix-Lozano v. Nalge Nunc Int’l Corp., No. 08-00854 (E.D. Calif.). In Missouri, a class action is pending against five baby-bottle manufacturers, accused of failing to disclose information regarding the health effects of BPA used in baby bottles and training cups. Sullivan v. Avent, No. 4:08-cv-00309 (W.D. Mo.). Similar billion-dollar class actions also are pending against baby-bottle makers in Kansas and Los Angeles, where the retailers who sold the bottles are also being sued. Wilson v. Avent, No. 2:08-cv-02201 (D. Kan.); and Gangei v. Ralphs, No. BC 367732 (Los Angeles Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). “What they’re doing is they’re poisoning children,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Robert Weiss of New York’s Law Offices of Robert H. Weiss, who is handling three class actions involving BPA products. “There’s no doubt that it’s harmful.” Officials at Playtex Products Inc. and Nalge Nunc International Corp., maker of the Nalgene water bottle, have agreed to stop using BPA in their products. Gary Cohen, vice president and general manager of Playtex’s Energizer Personal Care Division, said in a statement that regulatory agencies continue to “deem the ingredient safe,” but that the “right thing to do is eliminate any confusion or doubt that parents may have.” Officials at Nalge Nunc, a division of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., also plan to phase out water bottles made with BPA during the next few months, and substitute them with BPA-free alternatives. Michael H. Steinberg of the Los Angeles office of Sullivan & Cromwell, who is representing Avent Holdings Ltd. in the baby-bottle litigation, declined to comment, saying it’s against company policy to talk about pending litigation. Rachel Jari Feldman of White & Case, who is representing Gerber, was unavailable for comment. Gerber officials did not return calls for comment.

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