BPA (or bisphenol-A) is the tale of a chemical at the heart of a very heated controversy. It's a common plastic additive, found in things like baby bottles and trash can liners that is used to strengthen plastics. It's also a chemical that is absorbed into the body in trace amounts from everyday contact with these plastics. A recent CDC report found that 92% of Americans tested positive for some level of BPA in their system, which means that it's a chemical we're all being exposed to. What it does next...well that's the question that has everybody up in arms.
Depending on who you ask, BPA is either perfectly safe as it is currently being used, or it's a poisonous toxin that is leading to heart disease, liver damage, fetal deformations & birth defects, early puberty, sexual problems, and a whole host of other maladies. Which brings up the question: Who's right?
The Food and Drug Administration has taken the position that BPA is perfectly safe and poses no health risks at the current exposure levels. Japan and the European Food Safety Authority have also said that the chemical is safe. On the other side, Canada has considered banning the chemical outright, and scientists the world around continue to produce alarming studies regarding the effects of exposure to bisphenol-A, especially among children. This has many suspicious of the FDA's endorsement, as several high-profile shortcomings in recent years have led to a loss of faith in the organizations ability to perform its duties. Although the FDA, in its decision to consider the chemical safe, stated the studies in its review followed "good laboratory practices" in determining that BPA is safe, it didn't help quell concerns that all 3 studies it quoted were commissioned and funded by industry groups that manufacture and lobby for BPA. Nor was it reassuring when an independent advisory panel later concluded that the FDA review was flawed and the scientific measures it used inadequate.
While there is reluctance among some in the scientific community to declare flat out that we are being poisoned, there is certainly a general consensus of concern. Dr. Rick Stahlhut, from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, sums up the general worry among researchers: "It's just like every other environmental exposure problem. We are always two decades behind. Ten to 20 years after the chemical is produced, suspicions start to rise. By then, it's a multi-billion dollar industry, and now there are forces whose job it is to keep it going-and that is what is happening now."9 Others have taken an even more impassioned objection. Frederick Vom Saal, a University of Missouri-Columbia professor, states that "the FDA is ignoring all of this research. While it has been doing that, Americans have been at risk."2 It's sentiment that has been echoed by several scientists: "I do not understand why the governments of the United States and Europe put money into studying pollutants like bisphenol-A and then later don't listen to what scientists have found," comments Angel Nadal of the Spanish Biomedical Research Network in Diabetes and Associated Metabolic Disorders in Alicante. Sonya Lunder of the Environmental Working Group, a private organization, says flat out that BPA is dangerous.