The controversy over the safety of the chemical bisphenol A continues, as the U.S. FDA issues a statement saying that the agency sees no reason to tell consumers to stop using products that contain it, Reuters reports. This includes polycarbonate baby bottles, water bottles and more (which should be labeled with the #7 recycling code).
The FDA's statement, released in a climate of heavy pressure from the chemical industry, is in contrast to developments in Canada. On April 19 the Canadian government began a 60-day public comment period on whether polycarbonate baby bottles should be banned in the country. Observers have said a comprehensive ban on polycarbonate is even possible up north in the near future.
For its part, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., makers of Nalgene bottles, have announced that they will stop using polycarbonate. Wal-Mart says it expects all baby bottles it carries to be free of the material by early next year, and Toys R Us has discussed a similar plan.
If such major players are clearly expressing concern over BPA, what legs does the FDA have to stand on for its reassurance? According to Reuters, the FDA's associate commissioner for science, Norris Alderson, said the feds are reviewing safety concerns, and pointed to two industry-funded studies claiming it poses no risk.
However, Democratic Senators John Kerry and Charles Schumer, among many health advocates, are arguing that the government isn't going near far enough. They point to an April draft report issued by the National Toxicology Program that expressed some concern that BPA had the potential to cause neural and behavioral problems in fetuses, infants and children. That agency said evidence from several alarming animal studies suggests there may indeed be a link between BPA exposure and early puberty and prostate and breast cancer in people.
The fact that a number of red flags have been raised around the world over the safety of BPA is enough to make many parents want to reduce their children's exposure, especially given that youngsters are so much more susceptible to chemical harm than adults. With other types of plastic, ceramic, glass, metal and so on widely available, why take a gamble with our future just to maintain entrenched chemical industry profits?
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