The Food and Drug Administration decided late on Friday not to take action to remove Bisphenol A (BPA) from food packaging, like plastic containers and the lining of cans.
The agency had been forced to make a decision by the end of March by a lawsuit from the Natural Resources Defense Council. It is among many health and environmental groups who have been calling for action to reduce the public's exposure to the chemical, which has been linked by independent studies, as well as at least one high-level government panel, to a range of health problems, from obesity to cancer.
The chemical was developed as a synthetic estrogen, and its hormone-mimicking properties are what concern health advocates.
Studies, mostly in laboratories, but some in humans, suggest BPA's similarity to the human hormone estrogen could make it a surprisingly potent health risk even at low doses. Just as hormones, the body's chemical messengers, act on the body's organs and systems at low doses, the argument goes, so do so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA. Studies have linked exposure to a range of health problems ranging from obesity to reproductive problems.
Independent of government action, many retailers and manufacturers have responded to the science and the public calls by removing BPA from products aimed at children. Campbell's Soup recently indicated it would remove BPA from the lining of its cans, too.
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