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updated 7/17/2012 10:33:25 AM ET 2012-07-17T14:33:25

The federal government announced Tuesday that baby bottles and sippy cups can no longer contain the controversial chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA.

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The U.S. chemical industry's chief association, the American Chemistry Council, had asked the Food and Drug Administration to phase out rules allowing BPA in those products in October, after determining that all manufacturers of bottles and sippy cups had already abandoned the chemical due to safety concerns.

It is illegal for companies to use substances not covered by FDA rules.

The chemical industry's request may help curb years of negative publicity from consumer groups and head off tougher laws that would ban BPA from other types of packaging because of health worries.

Legislation introduced by some members of Congress would ban BPA nationwide in all canned food, water bottles and food containers. Chemical makers maintain that the plastic-hardening chemical is safe for all food and drink uses.

BPA is found in hundreds of plastic items from water bottles to CDs to dental sealants. Some researchers say ingesting the chemical can interfere with development of the reproductive and nervous systems in babies and young children. They point to dozens of studies showing such an effect from BPA in rodents and other animals.

But the FDA has repeatedly stated that those findings cannot be applied to humans. The federal government is currently spending $30 million on its own studies assessing the chemical's health effects on humans.

About 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their urine, mainly as a result of food and beverage packaging. The vast majority of canned goods in the U.S. are sealed with resin that contains BPA to prevent contamination and spoiling. Canned food manufacturers have used the chemicals since the 1950s. The practice is approved by the FDA.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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