What Are the Health Risks of Bisphenol A from Plastic Bottles?
The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t yet made up their collective minds on the risk or otherwise of bisphenol A, substance also known as BPA that is used in plastic bottles, to line drink’s cans and lots of other internal food packaging. So while the research into the adverse side effects of this commonly used chemical continues, just carry on ingesting it.
In rejecting an appeal from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, for a ban, a spokesperson for the FDA said:
“This is not a final safety determination on BPA. There is a commitment to doing a thorough evaluation of the risk of BPA.”
Scientific research is ongoing to pin down the precise influence of the chemical as it builds up in the body. It is known to behave like estrogen when ingested. Mice suffer bad effects, particularly with retarded development and reproductive deformities as well as carcinogenic changes in the prostate and breast areas. Some epidemiological studies have shown a positive correlation between build-up of BPA and increased potential for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.
What Is the Evidence Regarding the Safety of Bisphenol A?
What evidence there is, is not good but neither is it ‘sufficient to persuade’ the FDA decision-makers to order food manufacturers to substitute it. There are two issues with the research so far:
1) The dosing methodology did not reflect accurately enough the way in which people ingest BPA.
2) The sample sizes have been too small to build confidence in the results.
Will the FDA Ban Bisphenol A in Food Packaging?
The FDA has not closed the door on a future ban on BPA in food packaging. A statement says:
“FDA is performing, monitoring and reviewing new studies and data as they become available, and depending on the results, any of these studies or data could influence FDA’s assessment and future regulatory decisions about BPA.”
Environmental groups and in particular, the National Resource Defense Council are wondering when sufficient research will be done so that the FDA can declare the substance that millions of us are consuming all along, is unsafe.
Which Products use Bisphenol A?
Unsurprisingly the American Chemistry Council (ACC) that speaks on technical matters on behalf of food manufacturers see the FDA continued refusal to ban BPA as an endorsement of the safety of the substance. BPA has been used in food contact and approved as such, for more than forty years. It is also used in polycarbonate plastic containers, suitable for food storage, safety equipment, spectacles and many other products. Inside drink’s cans, BPA is part of the epoxy resin that keeps the cans from reacting with the liquids inside.
What the FDA is certain of, is that traces of BPA does enter drinks and is found at low levels in people’s diets. Consumer watchdogs expressed concern, and some states banned BPA in infant bottles and cups. The ACC support this ban and recommend it be imposed federally. Meanwhile, the National institutes of Environmental Health Scientists are conducting experiments to try to answer the questions around this issue. Not least of which is, how safe will a BPA substitute