RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The Environmental Protection Agency this week announced it is opening up an investigation of bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical consumers commonly encounter in a variety of products, including rigid plastic dishes and flatware, water bottles, and baby bottles, along with the linings of most canned foods and drinks.
When looking at BPA, hundreds of nonindustry-sponsored studies have already turned up serious cause for concern. In fact, last year, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reversed its previously lax stance on BPA, and is now more in line with the Department of Health and Human Services' U.S. National Toxicology Program's viewpoint that BPA is a risk of some concern to fetuses, babies, and young children, potentially causing neurological impairment and other developmental problems. In adults, BPA has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, and liver problems, while animal studies have found an increased risk of prostate and breast cancer.
Read more about BPA:
Canned Food Carries a Hidden Health Risk
"BPA-Free" Products May Still Contain BPA
Common Chemical Linked to a Slew of Health Problems
A Chemical Threat Gains New Urgency
Questionable Chemical Could Seep Into Your Soda
Chemical in Plastics May Be Especially Harmful to Women
"I'd put it right at the top of the list because right now we know more about it than most other chemicals," says endocrine-disruption expert Theo Colborn, PhD, professor emeritus of zoology at the University of Florida, and president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. "It affects all systems of the body."
THE DETAILS: While BPA has received a free pass in the past—with government agencies relying on industry studies for safety data (despite the fact that hundreds of independent researchers were sounding the alarm bells)—the Obama administration is set to add BPA to its "Chemicals of Concern" list as it further investigates the chemical's impact on wildlife. EPA will also look at how BPA used in nonfood consumer items' packaging affects human health, particularly the health of young children. (The FDA is in charge of food and food-packaging exposures.)
Read on to find out how best to avoid BPA.