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Water bottles free of the controversial carbonate plastic bisphenol-a (BPA) hang on display at an outdoor supply store in Arcadia, Calif. - 


TESS VIGELAND: If you've never heard of bisphenol A -- and who hasn't? right? -- get ready to hear a lot more. Wal-Mart says it's going to stop selling baby bottles made with BPA. The company that makes the popular "Nalgene" water bottles announced it'll stop using BPA as well. And this afternoon the Canadian government said it plans to ban the sale of BPA baby bottles. Sarah Gardner has more from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.

SARAH GARDNER: Wal-Mart has already stopped selling the bottles in its Canadian stores. The retailer expects to do the same in the U.S. by early next year. The decision comes amid a Canadian campaign to ban these bottles. A study released Monday by the U.S. National Toxicology Program also didn't hurt. That report raised concerns that BPA could cause behavioral changes in children and early puberty in girls. Mike Schade at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice applauded Wal-Mart's decision.

MIKE SCHADE: This is terrific news. We're really delighted that Wal-Mart is doing really the only sensible thing.

The shift away from BPA has been a boon to bottle manufacturers who use glass or alternative plastics. Those include niche players like Florida-based Born Free. The young company specializes in BPA-free plastic baby bottles. President Ron Vigdor says the company's grown a hundredfold since last year.

RON VIGDOR: We are manufacturing as fast as we can right now in Israel to keep up with demand, and we are flying in products day in and day out.

Environmentalists like Mike Schade believe Wal-Mart's decision to ban BPA bottles will trickle down to other retailers and manufacturers.

SCHADE: Their economic influence is unparalleled so we're hopeful that this will have a major impact.

But the American Chemistry Council says recent reports about BPA are "unnecessarily frightening the public." It says BPA is safe according to the Food and Drug Administration and it's asked the FDA to weigh in again.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

Follow Sarah Gardner at @RadioGardner