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How to Avoid BPA

Nov 7, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

There has been enormous controversy surrounding the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in recent months.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long claimed BPA is a harmless plastic additive that is safe at current levels; however, more and more, experts disagree saying that BPA is hazardous to human health and pointing to a large—and ever-growing—body of evidence confirming its hazards.

The FDA has been harshly and widely criticized for continuing to deem that the ubiquitous, estrogenic chemical poses no health risks.  One of the problems with the FDA’s findings is that it seems to be both relying on two industry-funded studies and ignoring many dozens of independent research findings.  The FDA has also been under growing scrutiny from health officials in the United States and Canada and, now, both Democrats and Republicans have questioned why the FDA used only industry-funded research when determining that BPA is safe.  Several states are considering restricting BPA use, some manufacturers have begun promoting BPA-free baby bottles, some toy makers have banned BPA use in their products, and Canada has just banned BPA in the production of baby bottles.

Meanwhile, BPA continues to be widely used in baby bottles and food and beverage packaging, as well as in a wide array of other consumer and children’s products.  BPA is also present in the vast majority of Americans’ bloodstreams and has been linked to several cancers, diabetes, heart disease, developmental delays in children, hormonal interruptions, problems with liver function testing, and complications with chemotherapy treatment.  The most recently released study on BPA indicates that maternal exposure to BPA could eliminate or decrease sex differences in certain behavioral responses.  This study is noteworthy because it lends credence to the increasing evidence that BPA exposure affects behaviors and the brain, among other health concerns.

The FDA and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) have not been able to agree on the safety of BPA; however, the NTP reports that it “has some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A."  Also, we just reported that the FDA Science Board said that the FDA’s review on BPA was inadequate or flawed; the Board also concluded that the FDA was in error when it announced that BPA poses no health risks at current exposure levels.  In response, FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, reportedly said, "Let me be clear: There's no shame for having" your hypothesis disproved.

While those in industry and the FDA maintain their stance that BPA exposure is safe, scientific evidence continues to mount to the contrary.  Given the controversy and overwhelming evidence pointing to BPA’s safety issues, we are offering a few suggestions to help limit BPA exposure:

  • Avoid polycarbonate plastic baby bottles.  These indicate a No. 7 inside the recycling triangle on the bottle’s bottom.
  • Use polyethylene or polypropylene plastic instead.  These products are labeled with a 1, 2, 4, or 5 inside the recycling triangle.
  • Use glass baby bottles or drinking containers.
  • Use drinking containers or bottles labeled No. 2, 4, or 5 or drink from a reusable stainless steel or a BPA-free plastic water bottle.

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