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Bisphenol A is a “Concern” for Children, report says

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, September 03, 2008 2:02 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: BPA, Bisphenol A, Plastics, Dangerous Products, Toxic Substances, Environmental Health, Living Well, Defective Products, Children's Health, Safe Home 101

Second report on BPA reinforces concern about childhood exposure.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ baby boy and bottle/ author: Matthias Sebulke


A U.S report issued today says that exposure to the plastic chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), creates “some concern” for developing fetuses, infants and children.

The government toxicologists are echoing safety concerns just weeks after the Food and Drug Administration declared the substance safe.

“We have concluded that the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed,” concludes the National Toxicology Program (NTP) report that gathered scientific opinion from the National Institutes of Health.

Bisphenol A is a chemical used primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins to make plastics hard and to seal food.

Polycarbonate plastics are used in some food and drink containers. The longer a liquid site in a container made of BPA, the more it can leach into the product. Resins using BPA are used to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply pipes. 

Bisphenol A is also used in polyester resins and flame retardants, in the production of polyvinyl chloride plastic (the new shower curtain smell), and in dental sealants and tooth coatings.

Rodent studies of bisphenol A have linked the synthetic estrogen to cancers, early onset puberty, obesity and type 2 diabetes.   The chemical may act as an endocrine disruptor. The effect is seen at a very low exposure, in the parts per trillion range.  Humans are regularly exposed at levels ten to 100 times greater.

Air, dust, and water are possible sources of exposure as well as food and beverages. The highest consumption is thought to occur in infants and children.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration insisted that there was an adequate margin of safety for consumers of foods that come in contact with the chemical. The toxicology group says that might not be true.

"More research is clearly needed to understand exactly how these findings relate to human health and development," said Michael Shelby, who directed the NTP report. "But at this point we can't dismiss the possibility that the effects we're seeing in animals may occur in humans."

Shelby's group did back away from one issue raised in its draft report.

While the group said in April there was "some concern" the chemical could speed up puberty in girls, the final report states there is now only "minimal concern" about those risks, that’s a mid-range concern on a scale of one to five.

The American Chemistry Council stresses that studies from animals provide “limited and inconclusive evidence”.

Concerned consumers who don’t want to wait for the government to come to some conclusions are already changing what they buy and eat now and manufacturers are responding.

Many avoid purchasing food containers made with plastic or canned foods. Major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us, plan to phase out baby bottles made with bisphenol A. 

Companies such as Evenflo and BornFree are increasing production of glass baby bottles as an alternative to the plastic varieties.

Other makers such as  Energizer Holding Inc.'s Playtex Infant Care unit and Thermo Fisher Inc., the maker of Nalgene sports bottles, have stopped using the chemical in their new products due to safety concerns.  

California lawmakers are considering enacting statewide restrictions on the chemical in baby products. At least ten other states are also considering bills to restrict bisphenol A. Canada intends to ban bisphenol A in baby bottles.

80,000 chemicals are registered for use in the U.S. with more than 2,000 new ones introduced every year, all falling under the watch of the National Toxicology Program.

More than six billion pounds of bisphenol are produced in the U.S. each year by Dow Chemical, Bayer AG and others.

Last June, four families filed a lawsuit over the plastic baby bottles, claiming that five companies didn’t warn consumers they used BPA.  

The lawsuit names five companies: Vandalia, Ohio-based Evenflo Co., Illinois-based Avent America Inc., Missouri-based Handicraft Co., Connecticut-based Handicraft Co., and Swiss company Gerber Novartis. #

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