Warning bells ring louder for BPA

BPA is a hormonally active chemical that gets absorbed into our bodies.

by Mary Budinger — 

Health Canada, the Canadian version of the U.S. FDA, is the world’s first regulatory body to call bisphenol-A (BPA) dangerous. The agency said it will ban BPA from baby products and may decide to ban it completely.

In April, the U.S. National Toxicology Program said BPA poses “some concern” for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures.

BPA is a hormonally active chemical that gets absorbed into our bodies. Some blame plastics for increased rates of early puberty, breast and prostate cancer, infertility, asthma and aggression. BPA is especially faulted for neurological disorders.

“We do not think that bans are warranted by the science,” said Steven G. Hentges, who is in charge of BPA issues for the American Chemistry Council, the industry’s trade group.

The financial stakes are huge: Plastics is the third largest manufacturing industry in the U.S., employing 1.1 million workers, according to the Society for the Plastics Industry.

The FDA maintains BPA is safe. However, as Diane Rehm commented on National Public Radio on April 29, 2008, many Americans have lost faith in the FDA to put consumers’ health above industry agendas.

“There’s too much exposure,” said Pete Myers, chief scientist for Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit that raises awareness of chemical risks. “The biggest source of exposure is canned food. Japan has dramatically reduced levels that get into food from cans. We can do that, too.”

In Washington, Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said the chemical should be banned from children’s products and food-packing containers. “At best the FDA gave Americans a false sense of comfort about a questionable substance. At worst, they put millions of Americans directly at risk,” Schumer said.

If you want to play it safe:

  • Do not wash polycarbonate plastic containers in the dishwasher or leave water bottles in hot cars because heat increases the amount of BPA that leaches out of plastic.
  • Don’t buy canned food. Although new research has focused on water bottles, most of your exposure probably comes from canned foods like soup, pasta, and fruits and vegetables, which are often processed at high temperatures. Virtually every canned product, even those labeled organic, has a liner containing BPA.
  • Switch to frozen or fresh vegetables.
  • Look for “BPA-free” plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers.
  • Switch to glass, porcelain and stainless-steel containers, particularly for hot foods and liquids.
  • Ask your dentist about your fillings — BPA is often a component of dental sealants.

 

Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She is a freelance writer and researcher for alternative medicine. 602-494-1999.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 3, June/July 2008.

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