AUGUSTA — The state’s Board of Environmental Protection voted unanimously Thursday to approve a ban on bisphenol-A in packaging for baby food and infant formula.

The measure, which the board endorsed in a preliminary vote last week, now goes to the Legislature for final approval.

BPA is a chemical used in an epoxy resin that serves as a barrier between food and its packaging. Studies have suggested a link between the chemical and developmental problems, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, cancer and obesity.

Because BPA can mimic or disrupt hormones, critics claim it is even more of a risk for young children, because their bodies are still developing.

Thursday’s measure expands legislation from 2011 that banned the chemical from reusable food and beverage containers and lids.

That law had a limited effect on the materials used for infant formula and baby food, and advocates for enhanced protection returned to lobby for an expansion of the law to cover those products.

The Legislature previously banned BPA from products targeted primarily at children 4 and older, requiring manufacturers to withdraw by Jan. 1, 2012, any reusable containers with the chemical.

The measure did not address products principally designed for children 3 and younger.

Thursday’s vote marked the next step in ensuring “that the last jars are taken off the shelves in Maine,” said Abby King, toxics policy advocate with the Natural Resources Council of Maine, an environmental group that was part of a coalition that campaigned on behalf of the ban.

Staff Writer North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

ncairn@pressherald.com