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Chicago May Ban BPA

Feb 17, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

While the federal health regulators continue to maintain that current bisphenol A (BPA) exposure levels do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and young children, many officials in Chicago disagree and are proposing a ban on controversial, estrogenic toxin.

BPA has been linked to a variety of diseases including an increased risk of diseases or disorders of the brain, reproductive, and immune systems; recent studies have linked BPA exposure to problems with liver function testing, an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, and interruptions in chemotherapy treatment; and BPA exposure has long been linked to hormonal disturbances.

BPA was also linked to serious health problems based on 130 studies conducted in the past 10 years, the Washington Post reported late last year, and newer research found BPA to have negative effects at “very low doses,” lower than the FDA’s safety standards currently in place.  Most recently, Web MD reported that studies show that BPA seems to stay in the body longer than previously believed, adding that the chemical is so ubiquitous, that it can be found virtually everywhere and is present in “detectable levels” in just about every human body.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to say that BPA is safe at current levels despite that it was relying solely on two industry-funded studies for its information, something for which the agency has long been criticized.

Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago is taking its own steps to ensure its city is free of the dangerous chemical.  The Finance Committee of the Chicago City Council held a hearing today on a proposal to ban children's products made with BPA, said the Chicago Tribune, which noted that exposure to BPA in infants can occur at rates 12 times higher than those of adults, with early exposure damaging developing bodies.

It seems that Chicago feels that while this move should be something that the FDA should undertake, it said that the FDA failed, wrote the Chicago Tribune, citing the FDA’s exclusive use of industry studies and saying that the FDA deeming BPA safe simply created "a false sense of security" about the toxin’s safety, according to an FDA advisory panel.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune pointed out that the agency is looking at BPA safety again and is expected to have a response to its Science Board on February 24th. The FDA is also preparing a detailed response to the October 2008 review by the FDA Science Board of the agency's draft assessment of the safety of BPA for use in food contact applications, which focused on the concerns for developmental toxicity identified in recent assessments of BPA, including those of the National Toxicology Program and their expert panel.

In Chicago, government officials sponsored a resolution asking the FDA "to expedite its current review of the safety of bisphenol A … and take appropriate action."  The pending resolution states that if the agency does not act by April 30, Chicago will "aggressively pursue" a city ban on BPA, said the Chicago Tribune.


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