Scientists say plastic compound causes reproductive problems
Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times
Friday, August 3, 2007
In an unusual effort targeting a single chemical, several dozen scientists issued a strongly worded consensus statement Thursday warning that an estrogenlike compound in plastic is probably causing an array of serious reproductive disorders in people.
The compound, bisphenol A or BPA, is one of the highest-volume chemicals in the world and has found its way into the bodies of most human beings.
Used to make hard plastic, BPA can seep from beverage containers and other materials. It is used in all polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, as well as other rigid plastic items, including large water cooler containers, sports bottles and microwave oven dishes, along with canned food liners and some dental sealants for children.
The scientists - including four from federal health agencies - reviewed about 700 studies before concluding that people are exposed to levels of the chemical exceeding those that harm lab animals. Infants and fetuses are most vulnerable, they said.
The statement, published online by the journal Reproductive Toxicology, was accompanied by a new study by researchers from the National Institutes of Health finding uterine damage in newborn animals exposed to BPA. That damage is a possible predictor of reproductive diseases in women, including fibroids, endometriosis, cystic ovaries and cancers. It is the first time BPA has been linked to female reproductive-tract disorders, although earlier studies have found early-stage prostate and breast cancer and decreased sperm counts in animals exposed to low doses.
The scientists' statement and new study - along with five accompanying scientific reviews that summarize the 700 studies - intensify a highly contentious debate over whether the plastic compound poses a public threat. So far no governmental agency here or abroad has restricted its use.
Representatives of the plastics industry on Thursday lambasted the scientists as alarmist and biased, and said they based their conclusions on inconsistent and uncertain science.
"Considering many of these people have made their views known in the past, is there any surprise? Is there really anything new?" said Steve Hentges of the American Chemistry Council's polycarbonate/BPA group.
Hentges said that the scientists who signed the consensus statement were self-selected, leaving out many experts, and that many have conflicts of interest because they have either studied BPA and reported effects or "have already taken a very clear advocacy position.
"They are completely at odds with the findings of every governmental scientific body that has reviewed the same science," he said.
Two government scientific committees in Europe and Japan recently decided there is insufficient evidence to restrict the compound.
In recent months, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has considered legislation that bans toys and child care products made with BPA.
Next week, a U.S. expert panel convenes to decide whether to declare BPA a human reproductive toxin, which could be a first step toward federal regulation. The review by the panel of the federal Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction, part of the National Institutes of Health, has been controversial. The Los Angeles Times reported in March that the preliminary report on BPA was written by a consulting firm with financial ties to the chemical industry that has since been fired by the center.
No studies have been conducted looking for effects in people.
Jerrold Heindel, a scientist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences who organized a meeting last fall to begin drafting the statement, said even though there have been no human studies of BPA, there is now so much animal data that the 38 experts believe that potential human damage is likely. More than 150 studies have found health effects in animals exposed to low doses.
For more information and articles on this toic:
Citing Safety, Wal-Mart and Nalgene pull BPA Bottles from Shelves
Glass Baby Bottles Make a Comeback
Plastic baby bottles may pose danger
Bisphenol A most harmful to infants, study says
Everywhere chemicals in plastics alarm parents
California OKs phthalates ban on children's products
Plastic May not be so Fantastic for Kids
Toxic Chemical Leaches from Popular Baby Bottles
Toxic Baby Bottles
Glass Baby Bottles Making Comeback
There are a few alternatives to using bottles containing BPA. My favourite choice thus far is the glass bottle by Wee go. Not only because it is BPA free, but because it is quite stylish. Yes, they are a bit expensive, but well worth it to me. It comes with a nipple when ordered, but Nipples by Nuk or Evenflo are compatible replacements.
A great site to buy a variety of BPA, PVC and Phosphate free items is: www.thesoftlanding.com
I also use this site to check items I have already purchased or are planning on purchasing to see if they are 'safe'.