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Attorney Speaks Out About Gaiam Water Bottles

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Houston, TXConsumers who purchased Gaiam water bottles because they were marketed as not containing bisphenol A (BPA) were probably surprised to learn that the water bottles actually have BPA in them. For George Niño, attorney with Caddell & Chapman, Gaiam is just the most recent company to have falsely marketed its water bottles. Niño is currently involved in litigation concerning SIGG water bottles, which were also marketed as being BPA-free when they actually do contain BPA.

According to Niño, Gaiam is a lifestyle company that sells, among other things, reusable aluminum bottles. It is these bottles that were allegedly sold as BPA-free when in fact they were made using BPA.

"BPA is a chemical used to make plastic," Niño says. "When this endocrine-disrupting chemical is in the body, it mimics or imitates estrogen. A federal interagency program, the National Toxicology Program ("NTP"), has studied the effects of BPA, and the NTP concluded that it has 'some concern' for the effects of BPA on infants and children at current levels of human exposure. A couple of years ago—2006 or 2007—people started moving away from plastic bottles because of concerns about BPA. There have been literally several hundred peer-reviewed articles about BPA and the risks of exposure."

SIGG, a a different company facing lawsuits regarding its water bottles, has already earned the ire of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA, September 23, 2009). In an article on the association's website, the OCA says that it initially listed SIGG as a company to avoid based on information it obtained from the Environmental Working Group identifying SIGG bottles as containing BPA. SIGG responded by informing the OCA that its liners were BPA-free. The OCA then issued a retraction and a letter of apology. In a subsequent press release, SIGG cited the OCA's retraction and used the legitimacy of this consumer advocacy group to represent that its bottles were BPA-free. The net effect is that SIGG convinced the OCA to retract a true statement about SIGG and then used this incorrect retraction to promote SIGG bottles as being BPA-free

However, according to the OCA, SIGG knew the entire time that its bottles contained BPA.

"We have already filed a lawsuit against SIGG regarding these types of misrepresentations," Niño says. "SIGG promoted its products as BPA-free and only this August admitted that they were not BPA-free. Now, SIGG is backtracking and claiming that it never said its bottles were BPA-free, just that the bottles don't leach BPA.

"As it turns out, SIGG is not the only bottle manufacturer making such claims. Just this week, Gaiam published information on its website, basically admitting that even though it told consumers its bottles were BPA-free, they were not.

"We are committed to trying to hold this industry accountable for these sorts of misrepresentations. These types of misrepresentations are so prevalent among certain companies that there is a term for it--greenwashing. It's evident that these companies preyed on consumers, including mothers with young children and cancer patients, who were specifically trying to avoid products with BPA in them. These companies believe they can mislead the public about their products without fear of being held accountable. We are trying to do what we can to change this."

Caddell & Chapman is a national law firm that handles a wide variety of class action, products liability, commercial, and personal injury litigation. The value of the firm's total recoveries for its clients exceeds $3 billion.



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