BPA, a heavily produced and widely used synthetic chemical in the plastics industry, is found in polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers, like baby bottles, baby formula containers, sports water bottles and epoxy resins that line metal cans of food. The chemical has been known to leach out of these products and into food that is ingested by millions of people throughout the world.
The use of BPA containing plastics and cans are incredibly widespread. According to the FDA, 17% of the American diet includes the use of canned food. One study, conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently detected BPA in 95% of its adult subjects. Chances are that you and your loved ones have been exposed to this dangerous chemical on a daily basis.
The ones most at risk are the ones least capable of defending themselves against this toxin: infants and children. BPA can seep from baby bottles and cans containing baby formula, and especially liquid baby formula containers.
BPA leaching is accelerated by heat, up to 40 times higher than the conservative safety standards in polycarbonate plastic bottles, when heated during dishwashing or boiling, according to a Consumer Reports study and a study conducted by a Norwegian food safety authority.
According to experts, infants and children lack the immune system to adequately detoxify the chemical and are therefore extremely vulnerable to the risks associated with BPA. Moreover, because infants digest formula almost exclusively during the first several months of their lives – and because of their small size – infants are exposed to much higher proportions of BPA than adults.
One would assume that such a scary chemical would be banned by the government, or, if not, at the very least regulated. Right?
BPA has been around for about 120 years and its use in plastic began in the 1950s, 20 years after the first evidence of BPA toxicity. Why has it taken 100 years for the government to start taking action?
Depending on who you talk to today, BPA is either completely harmless or a dangerous toxin. The plastics industry continues to repeat that BPA is perfectly safe. Hundreds of published studies and lab animal tests, however, conclude that exposure to the chemical, even at very low doses, can cause serious health problems. In fact, the plastic industry funded studies, eleven in all, have been heavily criticized for being flawed.
Even with this mounting evidence of the dangers of BPA, not a single American regulatory agency has taken action to update safety standards concerning it. Finally, however, the risks associated with BPA, and the inaction of the FDA to address them, have come to the attention of a few agencies and government officials. Canada has gone as far as to ban the chemical, labeling it as a toxin.
On April 16, 2008, in a historic shift from previous regulatory and official opinion on BPA’s safety, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) raised concerns that exposure to BPA during pregnancy and childhood could impact breast and prostate development, hasten puberty, and affect behavior in children.
The FDA has yet to act in amending its safety standards but Congress has taken notice. Two Congressional investigations have been launched against the FDA concerning the agency’s decision to keep BPA on the market as a safe product. These investigations have begun to shed light on the influence of the plastics industry on the FDA. It has also brought vast attention to the risks that BPA poses. Wal-Mart and some other retailers have stated that they will phase out selling BPA contaminated products. But, of course, this means that they will only stop selling theses products once their current stock is sold.
Still, there are many unanswered questions regarding the toxicity of this chemical. Until they are adequately addressed by the government agencies that are there to protect us from such dangers, the plastics industry will continue to use BPA for a profit, regardless of its risks.
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