Iowa lawmakers are wading into a national debate over the safety of a chemical additive used in many products used by children. The Senate has voted to ban the sale or manufacture of baby bottles, “sippy” cups, pacifiers or teething rings that contain bisphenol A, which is more commonly known as BPA.

The additive is used in plastics as a hardening agent, but studies show it can leach into food or beverages stored in those containers, increasing the risk for cancer according to some researchers. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, said he’s tired of waiting for the Federal Food and Drug Administration to act.

“Legislation has been introduced across the country on this issue,” Bolkcom said. “It’s an issue where the states are making the difference in the absence of a good federal effort here.”

A couple of Republicans voted against the bill, arguing a ban could hurt retailers and questioning the data about BPA’s cancer-causing properties. But Senator Shawn Hammerlink, a Republican from Dixon, urged bipartisan support.

“It’s been believed to cause some type of synthetic estrogen in babies who consume it and the research on both sides is 50-50,” Hammerlink said.  “And I got to tell you…I like children more than 50 percent of the time, so I’m going to back…this bill.”

Thirty other states are considering similar bans.  If the Iowa bill becomes law, retailers or manufacturers who distribute baby products with BPA after 2012 would face a $500 fine.

The proposed BPA ban now goes to the Iowa House for consideration.