My deputy editor at Parenting, Elizabeth Shaw, covers health for the magazine, and she shared the news that the FDA issued another report in support of the chemical bisphenol A. I asked her to weigh in, and here's what she had to say:
How much more evidence is needed before the U.S. government decides to take the threat of BPA seriously? This chemical is a known hormone disrupter and has been shown to have effects at doses far lower than those deemed safe by the FDA and EPA. There's widespread agreement that babies and children are particularly vulnerable. Animal research linking BPA to brain, reproductive, and immune problems—and even cancer—has been growing steadily for years. Canadian health officials have declared BPA a toxic chemical, and the country is taking aggressive action to limit exposure, including banning it from baby bottles. And last week, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study of nearly 1,500 adults that linked the chemical to heart disease and diabetes. One of the biggest reasons this study is so important? It's one of the very few done on actual PEOPLE, not animals.
Apparently, none of this is enough. Just as the JAMA study was released, an FDA subcommittee issued BPA a vote of confidence, claiming that, in fact, there is NOT sufficient evidence that the chemical causes harm. At first we thought that perhaps the report was issued from Bizarro World (you know, that alternate universe where everything is the opposite of our own). But then upon closer reading, we discovered that two of the animal studies the agency relied heavily upon were sponsored by the American Plastics Council and the Society of the Plastics Industry.
Look, we get that more research needs to be done to truly understand the effects of this chemical on our bodies, but that doesn't mean the public should remain the guinea pigs. There is already more than enough research to suggest that BPA may play a role in many common illnesses. And yet chemical companies can still keep churning it out—2 billion pounds a year—to use in the lining of canned foods and drinks, formula containers, plastic baby and water bottles, food containers, dental sealants, children's toys, and more. (Here's how you can minimize your baby's exposure to BPA.)
So our message to the government is simple: IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP AND SMELL THE PLASTIC! Support Sen. Charles Schumer's bill, the BPA-Free Kids Act of 2008, which would ban BPA in any product intended for children under age 7 and would require a large-scale study of BPA exposure in people of all ages, including pregnant women. Listen to the independent scientists. Err on the side of caution with these safer bottles and sippy cups. And please, please, do your job to protect the health of America's families.
Want to learn more about the BPA-Free Kids Act? Log on to thomas.loc.gov. You can also find links to your legislators. Write them to make your voice heard!
For more of Parenting's coverage of BPA, check out these stories: