[No. 07]Yale University researchers highlight BPA’s linkto infertility and other impairments. According to a news item on AlterNet.org (June 26, 2009), “Yale researchers may have solved a fundamental medical mystery: how bisphenol A (BPA), a ubiquitous plastics component, changes genetic chemistry and impairs fertility.” BPA is a synthetic estrogen that disrupts the endocrine system. It may have grave consequences for human reproduction. It may also lead to permanent and irreversible fertility loss. It is already linked to heart irregularities. According to the pioneer BPA researcher Frederick Vom Saal, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri-Columbia, “Americans’ exposure to BPA is probably significantly higher than the U.S. government's maximum ‘safe’ dosage.” The Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest and largest professional organization devoted to research and clinical practice on hormones and endocrinology, has taken the unusual step of issuing its first “scientific statement” declaring that BPA and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals in food, water and consumer products represent a “significant concern to public health.” The society has vowed to press for new government regulations to decrease human exposure to the many endocrine-disrupting agents. The developing children face most severe chemical threat from BPA. If something disrupts the endocrine system of a fetus or infant, one may not know there’s a problem until the exposed individual suddenly discovers she’s infertile. That may not be until 20 to 40 years later. Also some cancer may be a delayed reaction to early exposures to environmental chemicals. The predisposition to certain kinds of cancers such as breast, prostate, uterine, testicular and other hormonally-sensitive cancers, is set very early in life, according to experts.Although much recent attention has focused on BPA, there is room for researching the endocrine-disrupting properties of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial chemicals banned in 1977 but still detectable in most people and wildlife. “We need to learn from BPA, PCBs and other endocrine disruptors such as pesticides, fungicides, plastics and plasticizers that we cannot assume that a product is safe until it is proven otherwise,” according to experts. As scientists implicate BPA in a lengthening roster of ailments -- among them, cancer, reproductive and cardiovascular system disorders, brain and neurological system dysfunctions, behavioral problems, diabetes and obesity -- they are galvanizing political and regulatory efforts to rein in environmental pollutants whose mysteries are only beginning to be unraveled. For more of this news story, seeElaine Shannon , Editor-in-Chief, Environmental Working Group, “Yale Scientists Discover How BPA Causes Infertility,” in Huffington Post, June 26, 2009, available at http://www.alternet.org/rss/the_wire_provided_by_huffington_post/64973/elaine_shannon:_yale_scientists_discover_how_bpa_causes_infertility/ .
[No. 06] Chicago, Illinois: Chicago bans Bottles with BPA plastic. According to anews report in the new York Times ( May 13, 2009), “Outraged by what officials here are calling a failure by federal regulators to take action on a grave public health issue, Chicago passed the nation's first municipal ban on the sale of baby bottles and cups that contain the chemical bisphenol-A, known as BPA. The ban, which was passed unanimously Wednesday by the Chicago City Council, will take effect in January 2010. It comes less than a week after Minnesota's governor signed a similar statewide ban into law. Connecticut's House of Representatives also passed such a measure last month; the State Senate is expected to vote on that bill later this week. ‘The F.D.A. continues to be recalcitrant and very slow about taking any action on BPA,’ said Chicago Alderman Manuel Flores, one of two city officials who proposed the ban last year, after hearing concerns about the potentially harmful effects of the chemical to young children.” For more of the story, see Karen Ann Cullotta, “Chicago Bans Bottles With BPA Plastic,” in The New York Times, May 13, 2009, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/14plastic.html?_r=3&emc=eta1 .
[No. 05] Canada declares Bisphenol- A “a health hazard.” “Health Minister Tony Clement surprised the chemical industry by announcing the government's plan to place bisphenol A on its list of toxic substances six months ago.” So, on Saturday April 18, 2009 Canada “will become the first country to formally declare bisphenol A hazardous to human health and officially inform the baby-product industry it will no longer be able to use the chemical in baby bottles. Canada's announcement comes six months after Health Minister Tony Clement surprised the chemical industry by announcing the government's plan to place bisphenol A on its list of toxic substances and ban its use in baby bottles. In unveiling the "precautionary and prudent" move, Clement proposed a limited ban of the widely used chemical, also found in hard plastic sports bottles and the lining of food cans.” For the rest of the story, please go to Sara Schmidt, “Health Canada makes it official: BPA is health hazard,” Canada.com in (Canwest Global Communications Corp), available at http://www.canada.com/Health/Health%20Canada%20makes%20official%20health%20hazard/932205/story.html .
[No. 04] Vandenberg & Maffini on BPA:Eliminate BPA from products that expose our most vulnerable populations: fetuses, infants, and children. Laura N. Vandenberg and Maricel V. Maffini are research scientists at TuftsUniversity, in Massachusetts. In a recent op-ed piece in The Boston Globe (March 23, 2009), they take the regulators and the public officials to task for ignoring far too long the adverse effects of Bisphenol-A (BPA). “Why hasn’t BPA been banned?,” they ask. And they answer: “Mostly because BPA exposure cannot be associated with a single disease; the effects can be subtle and complications may appear years later. Animal studies revealed that BPA exposure during gestation contributed to behavioral disorders, obesity, diabetes, early puberty, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and infertility.” Vandenberg & Maffini also state that BPA has caused early puberty, obesity, reduced sperm count, hyperactivity, genital malformations, breast cancer and prostate cancer in laboratory animals. “Last year, a study of 1,455 adults, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, showed a positive correlation between urinary BPA levels and diabetes and heart disease,” they report. They further state: “In 2007, 38 international specialists on BPA signed the Chapel Hill Consensus Statement at a meeting organized by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences: Such a wide range of harmful effects, though found in laboratory animals, provided ‘great cause for concern’ for "the potential for similar adverse effects in humans.’ Experts at the National Toxicology Program agreed.” “BPA is regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which considers 50 parts per million of BPA per day to be a safe dose. However, over 100 animal studies have found effects well below this dose. In fact, scientists have yet to find a harmless dose of BPA,” they report.
In conclusion, Vandenberg and Maffini write, “It is now up to federal and state regulatory agencies, including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, to stop ignoring the government-funded studies showing that BPA exposure can contribute to a variety of chronic diseases. A new set of policies should eliminate BPA from products that expose our most vulnerable populations: fetuses, infants, and children.” For the full text ofthe op-ed piece, see Laura N. Vandenberg and Maricel V. Maffini, “The chemical in your baby's bottle,” in The Boston Globe, March 23, 2009, op-ed, available athttp://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2009/03/23/the_chemical_in_your_babys_bottle/ .
[No. 03] Bottle-makers pull Bisphenol-A. According to a news report by KRDO-13 radio (Colorado Springs), March 7, 2009, six Baby bottle-makers in the United States have agreed to stop using Bisphenol A, a chemical that parents and legislators have suspected for its effects on children. The six bottle makers who agreed to stop using the chemical are Avent, Disney First Years, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Playtex, and Evenflo. Report available at http://www.krdotv.com/Global/story.asp?s=9964683 . Perhaps, now, the indolent FDA might feel comfortable to take the industry’s lead and play its part!
[No. 02] Hauppauge, NY: SuffolkCounty inches toward banning BPA. On March 4, 2009, the Suffolk County Legislature voted unanimously to ban polycarbonate (plastic) baby bottles and other vessels intended for children 3 and under. As reported by News Day (March 4, 2009), the matter concerns the use of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles. The chemical is suspected of affecting children’s reproductive development, among other things. There is a public hearing on the measure scheduled at 9:30 AM of March 16, 2009. If enacted into law, the measure would make SuffolkCounty the first jurisdiction in the nation ban polycarbonate baby bottles. For more on this story and a general roundup of other efforts to regulate/ban BPA, see Reid J. Epstein, “Suffolk vote to ban BPA baby bottles first in nation,” in News Day, March 4, 2009, available at http://www.newsday.com/services/newspaper/printedition/wednesday/health/ny-poban0412513812mar04,0,3333946.story
[No. 01] Birmingham, Ala: University research raises cancer concern over Bisphenol-A. The issue of plastic additives and health goes far beyond cancer, and into a new scientific frontier created by technology allowing researchers to view genetic changes caused by chemicals. According to a news article in The Birmingham News (January 11, 2009), “Animal research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is resurrecting cancer concerns about a plastic additive commonly used in consumer products, including baby bottles, water bottles and the linings of cans.” Coral A. Lamartiniere, a toxicologist and senior scientist at UAB's Comprehensive Cancer Center, said low levels of BPA, given orally to rodents caused tumors and genetic changes consistent with early stages of cancer growth. The compound could predispose humans toward breast cancer. The U.S. National Toxicology Program raised public concern about BPA on April 14, 2008, reporting that high dose levels of the compound created health hazards in laboratory animals. “It's amazing how every compound has a genetic signature,” said Dr. Jose Russo of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, a close colleague of Lamartiniere and co-author of the paper published last week. Russo said researchers are looking at two types of plastic additives that have raised red flags in animal studies - phenols and phthalates. BPA is a phenol, and researchers suspect that girls exposed to these compounds before puberty could become more susceptible to breast cancer. Hormonal activity later in life - during puberty, pregnancy or menopause - may trigger this susceptibility. Russo said human studies are under way in New York, Ohio and California that should produce more definitive results about relative risks in 2 years’ time. Source: Dave Parks, “UAB research revives cancer concerns about some plastic additives,” in The Birmingham News, January 11, 2009, available athttp://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/metro.ssf?/base/news/1231665325115490.xml&coll=2 .