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California Bans BPA in Baby Bottles

California Bans BPA in Baby Bottles

Center for Health, Environment & Justice

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation banning the hormone disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA)  in baby bottles and children’s sippy cups. Renee Sharp, head of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) California office, said it was high time that California acted to limit children’s exposure to this troublesome chemical. EWG led the fight to pass the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act (Assembly Bill 1319).

The legislation, sponsored by EWG and co-sponsored by Consumers Union, Black Women for Wellness and Physicians for Social Responsibility, requires that BPA be eliminated in baby bottles and sippy cups made or sold after July 1, 2013. It would also require manufacturers to use the least toxic alternative substance for these products. The bill had widespread support, including that of the California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Medical Association and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.

“Assembly member Betsy Butler navigated a minefield of poison pill amendments that the industry attempted to get inserted into the bill,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s director of governmental affairs for California. “We also acknowledge the heavy lifting that Senator Fran Pavley did to move prior versions of this legislation and support the bill on the Senate side.”

BPA is used to make hard polycarbonate plastic, and can be found in many items, including hard plastic bottles and in the lining of tin or aluminum cans.

According to a 2009 reportBaby’s Toxic Bottle—BPA can leach from some baby bottles. BPA is a developmental, neural and reproductive toxicant that mimics estrogen and can interfere with healthy growth and body function. Animal studies demonstrate that the chemical causes damage to reproductive, neurological and immune systems during critical stages of development, such as infancy and in the womb.

“The only appropriate response to evidence that a known toxic chemical leaches from baby products is to phase it out and replace it with safer products in order to prevent harm wherever possible,” report author Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice said in a release. “Environmental health organizations from across the U.S. are calling for an immediate moratorium on the use of BPA in baby bottles and other food and beverage containers.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to BPA is widespread. BPA levels are higher in children than adults.

For more information, click here.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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