Safe or not?

What we have here… is a failure to communicate.

Today, the first major study of the effect on humans of BPA — a common ingredient in plasticware and baby bottles — showed that among 1,455 U.S. adults, those with the highest levels of BPA were more likely to have heart disease, diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities than those with the lowest levels.

Says The Washington Post

Dr. David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany in New York, noted that he has shown that these very same diseases are associated with PCBs, dioxins and chlorinated pesticides.

“I have a strong suspicion that BPA is doing exactly the same thing,” he said. “I have been arguing that BPA should be banned for a long time just on the basis of its effect on endocrine systems. The industry reports that argue that it has no adverse effects are simply wrong,” he said.

So what are we supposed to do now? The Food and Drug Administration is sticking with its position that the plastics are safe, according to FDA official Laura Tarantino…

“We have confidence in the data that we’ve looked at and the data that we’re relying on to say that the margin of safety is adequate…”

On the other hand…

“There are things you can do if you choose to reduce your level of bisphenol A…”

Alright, then.

“… but we have not recommended that anyone change their habits or change their use of any of these products because right now we don’t have the evidence in front of us to suggest that people need to.”

I see.

Canadian health authorities have announced plans to ban some products. The U.S. National Toxicology Program has “some concern” it may harm development of the prostate and brain.

Studies have shown that BPA is in the urine of more than 90 percent of people in the United States.

  • Back when I was a research engineer, I worked with Bisphenol A and the fluorinated version just about every day. The rules were that you had to have gloves on while handling it and you had to wash your hands thoroughly as the gloves came off.

    There wasn’t anything on the toxicity sheets that suggested this treatment, but among us chemists and chem engineers we had a saying – “That can’t be good for you”. We treated it as such.

    For the record, I don’t drink stuff out of plastic for just this reason. When my kids were infants I boiled the Hell out of anything they ate/drank from or chewed on.

    I know a little about the chemistry of these things, and while nothing’s been proven the adage holds: “That can’t be good for you.” I think it’s best to avoid anything with a phenyl group if you can – and in this case, it’s easy to avoid. So we should.

  • Minn Whaler

    And is there evidence of ” those with the highest levels of BPA were more likely to have heart disease, diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities than those with the lowest levels” showing up in any kind of further research to show that of the 90% with BPA in their urine, have a higher incidence of developing endocrineal problems? And if so at what level?

  • Elizabeth T.

    One of the professors in the Environmental Health Science’s program of the School of PUblic Health (at U.Minn.) does research on this. He told a group of grad students last fall in one of the basic environ. pub. health classes that he recommends that no woman of reproductive age should be drinking out of those plastic water bottles. To reduce the esposure to this stuff.

    Working as an industrial hygenist, and having worked as a chemist before that, I can testify to Erik Hare’s observations. Any chemist worth her salt will always wear gloves when handling stuff in the lab that could be hazardous. My rule of thumb: are you willing to eat it? Then wear gloves and wash your hands. My rule of thumb re: environmental exposures like this … toxicology research for products in the US is extremely limited. If you don’t really need the exposure, remove it.

  • Al

    I have heard research about the effects of exposure, but I still have heard little eveidence about the risk of exposure. Does BPA leach out of the plastic into water at room temperature? Does it leach out at high temperature? Do the amount of leachables change when other products are stored the containers? Is BPA more likely to leach out of the plastic into cooking oil?

    I agree that it is good to avoid ingesting BPA and I would like to see studies showing where the exposure is coming from. What factors lead to the leaching? This testing should be done on new types of food containers BEFORE using them. This is certainly a factor in drug packaging. It never ceases to amaze me how little testing we do on food in comparison to drugs when we in ingest much larger quantities of food.