Bisphenol A: Who knew what when?

In the wake of increasing public scrutiny of the hormone-disrupting plasticizer, bisphenol A (BPA), comes disturbing news about the FDA approval of the toxin.

I’ve written several posts about BPA, its widespread use in infant and children products (baby bottles, formula cans) and its potential effect on children’s health. In fact, BPA is a case study in why the precautionary principle is so important. The media is starting to latch on to growing public and scientific concerns; PBS is running “Toxic Toys” with the following intro:

Why does the United States remain one of the few developed countries to allow children to play with toys that some scientists say may cause infertility in boys? The toys in question contain substances called phthalates (pronounced “thal-ates”). While the European Union has banned these substances in products meant for children, there is powerful resistance from the chemical and toy industries to doing the same here.

In New Jersey, legislation to ban phthalates has been introduced, according to the Newark Star-Ledger:

New Jersey is joining a growing number of states seeking to ban potentially toxic chemicals found in name-brand children’s baby bottles, toys, powders and lotions. Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex) introduced a bill this week to bar the sale and manufacture of any children’s products containing two chemicals, bisphenol A and phthalates. Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the upper house, Greenstein said. Studies of these chemicals have linked them to birth defects and other problems in animals, though there is no scientific evidence of harm to humans. Based on a review of several studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined the current use of the two chemicals is safe, according to an FDA statement released yesterday.

Several studies? What about the hundreds of scientific studies demonstrating evidence of harm? According to statements published today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the “several studies” the FDA reviewed to determine safety are actually two studies, both sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry, a subsidiary of the American Chemistry Council, a notorious BPA apologist group that speaks for plastics manufacturers.

One of the studies has never been published, and therefore never subjected to peer review; the second has been heavily criticized by researchers who say the results are inconclusive because of flawed experimental methods.

“The FDA is really going to have problems over this,” said Frederick vom Saal, a bisphenol A researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The poor FDA. What about the millions of babies exposed to BPA and other toxic plasticizers? When are we going to address these issues BEFORE we realize there’s a problem? And when are we going to fix the processes at the FDA (feel free to substitute EPA or CDC – your choice) to ensure our children’s safety? When is that going to matter more than industry $?

Speak Your Mind