The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, will invest $30 million over two years to study the safety of bisphenol A, according to USA Today.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a compound that hardens plastic and is used in thousands of everyday consumer items including DVD cases, shower curtains and baby bottles.
According to Robin Mackar, a spokeswoman for NIEHS, most of the funds come from the economic stimulus bill.
BPA, a known estrogen disruptor, can mimic hormonal activity in animals and humans. Several billion pounds are produced every year and it’s been found in the urine of an estimated 93 percent of Americans. But government agencies remain divided about whether it poses a health risk.
Animal studies have shown BPA exposure during fetal development can alter the development of breast and prostate glands which can increase the risk of cancer. The chemical has also been linked to a host of health issues ranging from behavioral changes to prostate and breast cancer, to diabetes and infertility.
New research will focus on low-dose BPA exposure and effects on behavior, cardiovascular disease, various cancers, diabetes, obesity and reproductive disorders. Researchers will also study whether the effects of BPA exposure can be passed from parents to their children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is also expected to release an assessment of BPA’s safety by the end of November. However, due to consumer concerns, many major manufacturers, including Babies R Us, have already stopped using the chemical in their baby bottles.
Activists are pleased by research progress, but the Environmental Working Group (EWG), says the FDA already has sufficient information to restrict BPA exposure, particularly in children and pregnant women.
“More can certainly be learned about BPA, but we have scores of studies that show low-dose exposure to the chemical can increase risks,” said Anila Jacob of EWG.
Bisphenol A or BPA has been a suspected endocrine disruptor since pioneer zoologist, Theo Colburn began following the chemical train in her landmark book, Our Stolen Future (Dutton, 1996; Plume 1997), where she explored many examples of plasticizers acting as a synthetic form of estrogen that disrupt the normal sexual development among wildlife. #