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December 27, 2009

All About Bishenol-A

ASSESSING RISKS FROM BISPHENOL-A: The industrialized world produces an immense amount of plastic, more than 45 billion kilograms annually in the United States alone. But what is it made of, and is it all safe? Some reusable water bottles sold in Wal-Mart and other retail stores in the United States now display stickers proudly marketing themselves as "BPA-free." The labeling results from consumer concern over scientific evidence that bisphenol A (BPA), a common ingredient in many hard plastics, may be harmful to the human reproductive system because it interferes with hormones. The plastics industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say BPA is not dangerous at the levels people are currently exposed to. In contrast, in September of 2008, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) concluded that there is "some concern" for adverse effects on the "brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children." This concern prompted members of Congress to pressure the FDA to take another look, a process that is now underway.

Patisaul

A factory worker in England lifts a reusable water container manufactured, in part, with bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it is capable of interfering with normal hormone functioning in organisms. Evidence is mounting that BPA exposure can disrupt normal reproductive-system development and functioning in laboratory animals. There is a pressing need to overcome challenges to assessing the true risks that this compound -- and the many others like it—pose for people.

Inconsistent messages about BPA safety have generated considerable public rancor, highlighting how human risk assessment of BPA (and compounds like it) is both uncoordinated and controversial. Consensus regarding BPA's safety has evaded U.S. health agencies for multiple reasons. Most pressing is the lack of clear guidelines for how much or what type of scientific evidence is needed to judge risks from hormone-disrupting compounds such as BPA. It would be unethical to directly assess those risks in people through controlled, double-blinded exposure experiments. At the same time, there are uncertainties about when exposure data from animal studies are relevant to human health. In a global environment where BPA production and exposure have grown rapidly, there is a pressing need to overcome these challenges. That is especially true because BPA is only one of thousands of chemicals thought to possibly have unintended effects on reproductive health. For the complete article, please click on to http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/2010/1/assessing-risks-from-bisphenol-s/1. American Scientist, January-February 2010, pp. 30-39.

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