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FDA Revisiting BPA

Dec 16, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

After months of criticism, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is finally reviewing its draft assessment on bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical that is used to make plastics harder, Dow Jones has said.  BPA has been at the root of an ongoing controversy regarding its presence in baby bottles and other children’s products.  Now, says Dow Jones, the FDA is reportedly reconsidering hundreds of independent research studies that point to BPA’s harms. Much of this research has found that, at currently approved levels, BPA is not safe.

The FDA issued its original report on BPA this summer and was roundly criticized by the scientific community and consumer advocacy groups for relying on two studies funded by the chemical industry.  As a result, the FDA deemed BPA levels in plastic baby bottles and canned foods to be safe, Dow Jones said.  Finally, this fall, an FDA panel of external experts said that the studies called for a second look.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BPA is found in the urine of the vast majority of Americans—over 90 percent—and experts believe, say the Washington Post, that BPA enters the body through food and drink containers.

BPA, an estrogen-mimicking chemical 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 diabetes, heart disease, problems with liver function testing, and interruptions in chemotherapy treatment; and hormonal disturbances.  In addition to being commonly found in plastic baby bottles and food can linings, BPA is found in CD cases, eye glasses, dental sealants, and water bottles, to name some.

The Washington Post points out that 130 studies over the past 10 years have linked BPA to serious health problems and that new research reveals BPA has negative effects at “very low doses,” lower than the FDA’s safety standards currently in place.  As a matter-of-fact, notes the Washington Post, the National Toxicology Program, an arm of the National Institutes of Health announced that there is “some concern” BPA “may affect the brain and behavioral development of fetuses, infants, and young children.”  Dow Jones added that BPA has also been linked to prostate cancer, male genital defects, and early female puberty, adding that experts say the FDA should never have ignored the scientific evidence pointing to BPA’s harm to humans.

Now, says Dow Jones, the FDA is looking at the independent research it ignored when developing its long-standing assessment calling BPA at current levels safe; however, the FDA gives no guarantee it will change its standing.  And, says, the Washington Post, the FDA confirms it is simply reviewing data, not changing its position.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that in addition to some states working to ban BPA in a variety of products, the upcoming congress—specifically Representative Edward J. Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts) and Senator Charles E. Schumer (Democrat-New York)—are planning to reintroduce bills to ban BPA.  Also, Canada recently declared BPA a "toxic substance" and plans to ban it from baby bottles, said the Washington Post, adding that, most recently, a group of health and environmental groups, which is meeting with President-elect Obama’s transition team, is looking to make the BPA ban a top priority.


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