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A recent hot topic among consumer safety advocates has been the use of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic compounds that are clear, hard, and not easily breakable. BPA is used in helmets, CDs, sunglasses, and cell phones as well as in food and beverage products such as water bottles, baby bottles, can coatings, and dental sealants. See link.

Controversy has surfaced due to conflicting studies regarding whether exposure to BPA is harmful in humans, and particularly, if such minimal exposure is harmful at all. In a statement by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), scientists have found that the trace amounts of BPA from bottles and canned foods have not been found to cause toxic effect in animals. Furthermore, considering the low dietary exposure and the fact that BPA has not demonstrated adverse effects when consumed by animals in [higher amounts than] humans would consume, the FDA sees “no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict the uses now authorized…[yet will continue with] ongoing review of all available data.”

In a study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 93% of people tested had measurable levels of BPA in their urine, with highest levels in children. A study by The National Toxicology Program noted low-dose BPA exposure in animals led to cancer, genital malformations, and early puberty.

The European Food Safety Administration (EFSA), which permits the banning of chemicals based upon less stringent evidence than is required in the US, has determined that there is no reason based on current conflicting evidence to ban BPA, discrediting some of the studies on mice and rats by citing that people metabolize and excrete BPA from the body more quickly than do rodents.

Whether or not scientific studies, some of which funded by plastics corporations, have pinpointed BPA’s dangers, many manufacturers have made non-BPA plastic products available in response to consumer demand, particularly those used in food containers and bottles for children. A ban of BPA has been considered in California, New York, and in least 10 other states. The proposed California ban, for example, discusses the impact on children 3 and under, and would require all products or food containers designed for such children to contain only trace amounts of BPA.

For more information, also see this Injury Board blog.

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