The debate over the safety of common plastics continues to heat up, as major players take action against polycarbonates, which contain the chemical bisphenol A (aka BPA).
On April 19 the Canadian Government began a 60-day public comment period on whether polycarbonate baby bottles should be banned in the country. If nothing earth-shattering is revealed in that time, the government is expected to enact a ban. Some observers have pointed out that this step may even lead to an eventual comprehensive ban of polycarbonate up north.
In related news, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (TMO), makers of the iconic Nalgene drink bottles, have announced that they will phase out production of their bisphenol A-containing line over the next several months. Similarly, Playtex Infant Care, a division of Energizer Holdings Inc., announced that their baby products will be bisphenol A free by the end of the year. The company is to immediately suspend distribution of polycarbonate products in Canada.
Global retail giant Wal-Mart has also entered the discussion, announcing that it expects all baby bottles it carries to be free of the material by early next year.
Public health advocates have been warning about the potential for harm from bisphenol A for years, but the latest round of action was touched off last week when the U.S. National Toxicology Program noted that there is "some concern for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures" to the chemical.
The bad news is polycarbonate is found in quite a number of products, including office water coolers and the lining of food cans, in addition to many items that do not carry consumables. As more information is gathered on this issue, it seems likely that governments and the market will move away from the material. Until then, it may be wise to limit your exposure (look for the number 7 recycling code).
To learn more about which types of plastic are considered safe to use, and which you should steer clear of, go here.
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