For years, Yukoners may have been unwittingly feeding toxins to their babies.
Plastic baby bottles have been found to leech dangerous chemicals into the liquids they contain, according to leading experts.
“We were using the plastic baby bottles because that was what was available,” said Marya Morningstar, a local mother.
“So when we read about it — I think it was in September — I was just shocked.”
Morningstar did some research of her own and became increasingly worried about the plastics.
“I’m not usually very particular about organic this or that but I really got on the wagon with this stuff,” she said.
“It seemed potentially very dangerous.”
Morningstar tried to buy safe, glass baby bottles from stores in Whitehorse, but was unable to find them anywhere.
She went back to the internet and bought bottles for her baby from EBay.
This gave her an idea.
“I felt it was a good opportunity to offer this to other people,” she said.
“So I just took some extra cash and invested it.”
Morningstar now has 200 baby bottles stacked in a back room at her home.
A year ago, Environment California conducted a study into the toxicity of baby bottles.
It found that five top-selling plastic baby bottles all had harmful levels of Bisphenol A.
Bisphenol A is a chemical very similar to the sex hormone estrogen and has been found to be a developmental, neural, and reproductive toxicant.
Nevertheless, it is a building block in most clear polycarbonate plastics, such as those used in Nalgene water bottles.
In December, Coast Mountain Sports in Whitehorse pulled the popular bottles from its shelves and replaced them with safer, stainless steel water bottles.
Bisphenol A has been found to leech out of the plastic into the liquids it contains, especially if the bottles are heated, which is a common practice with baby bottles.
Experts have linked very low doses of Bisphenol A to cancers, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity, among other problems.
Health Canada has limited the use of the chemical based on a tolerable daily intake of 25 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day.
However, that is a thousand times higher than the amount found to cause adverse effects, according to Frederick vom Saal, a development biologist who specializes in Bisphenol A.
Health Canada has confirmed that its scientists are in the midst of reviewing the new information on the chemical.
According to the California study, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found Bisphenol A in the urine of over 95 per cent of people they tested.
The median level of the chemical found in those tested was higher than the level that caused adverse effects in animals.
The report recommends that parents purchase bottles made from glass or non-polycarbonate plastics.
So far, Morningstar is the only one selling these types of bottles in the territory.
“I’m just surprised that no one else has caught up on it yet,” she said.
“Wal-Mart hasn’t even caught up to me.”
Morningstar has put up flyers in cafés and public places around town to advertise her new venture.
However, the majority of her marketing is done by word of mouth.
She attends a baby group at the Victoria Faulkner woman’s shelter and knows many of the new mothers around town.
In her own home, as Morningstar spoke, 10-month-old Atreyu — named after a hero from The Neverending Story — gurgled happily and bounced on her knee.
Atreyu was wearing a pair of bright, rainbow-coloured pants that his mom had made for him.
The pants match the brightly coloured artwork and furniture throughout the house.
“As you can see, we’re bright people but I couldn’t find any bright clothes for boys, so I started making them myself,” said Morningstar.
“He’s my little inspiration,” she said, giving Atreyu a big hug.
Morningstar makes and sells these pants to other moms — a line of clothes she calls Bright Bottoms.
She is thinking of opening her own baby boutique to offer these and other products that she has been unable to find in the territory.
She would also like to have a space in the store to offer additional baby groups for new and expecting mothers.
But Morningstar isn’t rushing into things, and is taking a course to test the feasibility of her business plan.
“I’m taking my time,” she said.
“I mean, I think it’s a brilliant idea but we’ll see if it’s possible.”
Morningstar is selling Momo-brand glass baby bottles at $15 for three five-ounce bottles and $20 for three nine-ounce bottles.
She said she currently doesn’t have any plans to expand the bottle business further.
“I’m just going to stay where I am,” she said.
“I’m trying to make a million and I don’t want to be a bottle salesman forever.
“I’m just filling a need right now.”