It's another big news week for Bisphenol A.
The Endocrine Society, a medical group, has published a new statement about endocrine-disrupting chemicals that concludes that, while more research is needed, many chemicals -- Bisphenol A, phthalates, pesticides and various other common chemicals -- in various combinations represent a "significant concern for public health" and should be avoided:
"Although more experiments are being performed to find the hows and whys, what should be done to protect humans? The key to minimizing morbidity is preventing the disorders in the first place. However, recommendations for prevention are difficult to make because exposure to one chemical at a given time rarely reflects the current exposure history or ongoing risks of humans during development or at other life stages, and we usually do not know what exposures an individual has had in utero or in other life stages.
"In the absence of direct information regarding cause and effect, the precautionary principle is critical to enhancing reproductive and endocrine health. As endocrinologists, we suggest that The Endocrine Society actively engages in lobbying for regulation seeking to decrease human exposure to the many endocrine-disrupting agents. Scientific societies should also partner to pool their intellectual resources and to increase the ranks of experts with knowledge about endocrine disrupting chemicals who can communicate to other researchers, clinicians, community advocates, and politicians."
Bottom line: The medical experts are collectively expressing the same concerns independent scientists have been expressing for years. That concern: Many chemicals are acting in minute quantities to disrupt the normal functioning of our hormones. There's not always enough evidence to damn any one substance, but there's enough reason to believe that they act together to cause serious health problems -- and that we should reduce our exposure.
The prime endocrine disrupting suspect, in the public's mind, is Bisphenol A, which is found in hard plastics, baby bottles, the lining of food and beverage cans, the white coating on shiny receipts ... and in the bodies of about 9 in 10 U.S. residents. A new report presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting is also making news, linking Bisphenol A to yet another health concern: heart disease.
Expect the chemical industry to launch a public campaign to influence opinion about Bisphenol A. The industry recently held a secret meeting with the goal of devising a way to improve the chemical's image. The Environmental Working Group has begun targeting Coca-Cola in an effort to undermine that fledgling publicity effort.
Several other states, and Congress, are considering bans on the use of Bisphenol A in children's products, in order to protect children at their most vulnerable from a chemical that mimics the human hormone estrogen. The Food and Drug Administration has not backed off its endorsement of the chemical as safe, despite independent research that suggests the chemical mimics hormones and could be linked to serious health problems, from diabetes to prostate cancer.
The FDA's stance -- which it determined based on two industry-funded studies and to the exclusion of dozens, if not hundreds, of independent scientific research raising serious questions about the safety of the chemical -- is coming under increasing fire from both within the U.S. and abroad.
As public concern over the chemical have mounted -- largely due to the reporting of the Heart of Green Award-nominated Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporters over the last couple years -- major retailers and manufacturers like Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Nalgene (also recognized for Heart of Green Award consideration) have vowed to phase out the use of Bisphenol A in children's products. Even Sunoco, one of the chemical's biggest manufacturers, has stopped selling it to companies that might use it in a children's product.
Canada has banned Bisphenol A in many products for babies and young children, and Suffolk County, N.Y., could become the first government in the U.S. to do so. The National Toxicology Program has raised concerns about Bisphenol A's potential to disrupt the normal development of fetuses and babies, and the Environmental Protection Agency has been criticized for failing to consider the cumulative effect of hormone-disrupting chemicals that Americans are routinely exposed to.-
For more information about Bisphenol A and the other ubiquitous hormone-disrupting chemical of the moment, phthalates, see The Daily Green's How to Avoid Bisphenol A and Phthalates.
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