State Rep. Elaine Nekritz kept waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to do something about bisphenol A, a plastic chemical additive used in many products, from baby bottles to metal canned food linings. BPA is dangerous, and its [sic] everywhere. Seven billion pounds of it are produced each year, and 93 percent of American have detectable amounts of it in their bodies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Studies have linked BPA to diabetes, heart disease, and impaired function of the brain, uterus and prostate. There's more: Infants can have 12 times as much BPA in their system as adults do. Early exposure can do serious harm to their still-developing reproductive organs.

Canada has banned BPA from baby bottles. The FDA? Last year it said BPA was safe for humans — after it considered only studies that had been financed by the plastics industry. The FDA is doing a new evaluation of BPA now. Nekritz, a Democrat from Northbrook, has sponsored a bill that would ban BPA in many products and reusable food and drink containers sold in Illinois that are intended for use by children under age 3. A similar proposal is before the Chicago City Council.

The state ban would not go into effect until July 1, 2010, so manufacturers of baby bottles, cups and other products would have ample time to come up with alternatives and the FDA would have time to act on the national level. The Illinois House has a chance to protect children here. Passing Nekritz's bill today sure would get everyone's attention.