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Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been slowly disappearing from toys, food packaging and food service items since it was revealed to have health risks including cancer, sexual dysfunction, and heart disease. The issue is particularly important for children, as BPA levels–detectable in the blood and urine of pregnant women, and in the umbilical cord blood of infants–is believed to impact fetal and child development alike.
The fight to have BPA banned from all food service items was escalated late last week when Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban it. The Washington Post reports that Markey’s argument is not based on the health risks of BPA, but rather is based on the obsolescence of the material:
Markey did not premise his request on the chemical’s potential dangers. Instead, he used a provision that allows people to petition for changes to food additive rules if it can be shown that an additive’s old use has been abandoned. Markey’s office polled the food industry and found that major manufacturers no longer use BPA in their food packaging. Using this “abandonment” clause enables the government to sidestep the debate over whether BPA is safe and still bar the chemical’s use.
In three separate petitions, Markey is asking FDA to ban the chemical’s use in the packages of three types of household products: infant formula and baby/toddler food, canned foods and beverages, and small reusable food containers.
The four companies that make nearly all the nation’s formula said they no longer use BPA, according to the petition. Seven other companies that make canned foods said they either no longer use BPA or they are phasing it out. Seven firms that make reusable containers, such as Tupperware and Glad, said they have either never used BPA or have stopped using it.
The FDA has previously stipulated that BPA carries health risks, but has stopped short of banning it saying that it is safe in small doses.
Image: Plastic baby bottle, via Shutterstock.
Monday, October 24th, 2011
Preliminary research into the effects of in-utero exposure to the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) has correlated high levels of the compound with behavioral issues in 3-year-old girls, The Associated Press reports.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that preschool-aged girls whose mothers had high levels of BPA during pregnancy scored worse–though still within normal range–on behavioral measures including anxiety and hyperactivity. For every 10-fold increase in BPA in the mothers during pregnancy, the study found that girls scored 6 points worse on the behavioral questionnaire given at 3 years.
The results did not seem to be replicated in boys.
Nearly all Americans have measurable BPA levels in their bodies (the pregnant women were given urine tests). The chemical is found in some plastics and food can linings, though increasing numbers of companies are marketing “BPA-free” materials, especially in items intended for use by children.
Researchers called these results “preliminary” and called for further study of BPA’s effects on child health. This study was specifically faulted for not tracking other potential behavior-influencing factors, such as the mother’s prenatal eating habits.
Parents can consult the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website for information on current research and advice on managing BPA levels in children.
(image via: http://onmybaby.com)
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical found in some hard plastics and food can linings, has been found to make male mice less “masculine” and less attractive to female mice, reports Health.com.
Though the study, in which pregnant mice were fed BPA and their offspring put through a series of tests, cannot be conclusively linked to similar effects of BPA on baby boys, studies have shown that male factory workers who were exposed to significant amounts of BPA experienced erectile dysfunction and loss of libido.
In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration issued a statement of concern over the effect of BPA on fetuses and young children, though BPA has not been officially declared to be a toxic chemical. Many toy and baby bottle companies have stopped using BPA in their plastics.
One interesting finding from the mouse study was that adult BPA-exposed and non-exposed mice both exhibited normal testosterone levels, though their behaviors were different. The study’s lead author, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri–Columbia Cheryl Rosenfeld, Ph.D., says this suggests that future human research should focus on pre-adult hormone levels, and how BPA exposure might be affecting people in ways that are not currently being measured.
“[We] have sexually selected traits just like animals do, so there’s no reason to presume that the animals would behave differently than humans,” Rosenfeld told Health.com. “It also suggests that the development period is very important — the period when offspring are exposed to endocrine-disrupting compounds. Pregnant women need to start considering what exposure to these compounds is doing to their offspring.”
For more: 15 BPA-Free Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups
(image via: http://www.fooducate.com/)