The Low Down on the Plastic Safety Debate
Your mommy friends heard about a report that says to ditch your plastic sippy cups. Your mom heard about a study that said limited exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) is just fine. Your neighbor cautions that the studies giving BPA the green light were funded by industry trade groups, who may have been seeing $$$ over health. Slightly unnerving, don’t you think?
Who, and what studies, are you supposed to believe? After all, the word on the street is that BPA is bad stuff–linked to breast and prostate cancer, among other health problems.
According to today’s front page of the Washington Post, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that it deemed BPA, the compound that has been found in plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and other products, safe after relying on research backed by the American Plastics Council (a trade group). The big concern is that the chemical industry may have influenced that research to achieve desired results–i.e. approval for use in plastic. For example, the chemical industry has funded scientists to advise the government about the safety of chemical compounds. Sound vaguely similar to the Tobacco Industry? That’s part of the reason the plastic safety debate is turning heads.
In case you’re wondering, Bisphenol A is not new. It was first synthesized by chemists in 1891. Scientists have known that it’s an artificial estrogen since the 1930s, but DES–the estrogen yanked in the 1970s which was linked to reproductive cancers–stole the limelight. Bisphenol A was grandfathered as a presumed safe chemical compound by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1976. In 1993, the EPA set a BPA high-dose safety standard. In 1997, the first published university study found cancer links to low-level BPA exposure. In 1999, Consumer Reports discovered that BPA leaches from heated baby bottles. Between 2003-2006, BPA was found safe by an expert advisory panel, after relying on the findings of contractor, Sciences International. In 2007, Congress launched an investigation–after learning that the contractor involved also performed work for BPA manufacturers. The investigation into plastic and safety debate is now on…. Click here to see the full 117 Year BPA Washington Post summary.
Now the hard part, you get to make up your own mind.