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“ I'll just stick to drinking out of free-range organic puddles. ”

Ben RM NPRMonday, February 16, 2015 9:23 AM

NPR2015-02-17T20:34:47.000Z

Eastman Chemical went a step beyond calling Tritan plastic BPA-free, setting off a legal challenge.

BPA-free isn't good enough anymore if you're trying to sell plastic sippy cups, water bottles and food containers.

The new standard may be "EA-free," which means free of not only BPA, short for bisphenol A, but also free of other chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen.

At least that's the suggestion of a recent legal battle between a chemical company and an academic scientist with business interests in the plastics industry. The proceedings offer a glimpse of the struggle for the hearts and minds of consumers concerned about the safety of plastics.

The roots of the legal conflict go back to 2002, when Eastman Chemical began developing a new plastic called Tritan. It was designed to be "a tough, clear, high-temperature, chemically resistant and also dishwasher-resistant product," says Chris Killian, a vice president for specialty products at Eastman.

Tritan had another desirable quality: Unlike many plastics, it didn't contain BPA, a chemical that, in large doses, caused hormone-related health problems in animals.

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