Both U.S. and Canadian health authorities have shown an
increased concern this week over a popular chemical used in many different
plastic products. The chemical, Bisphenol A or BPA, has been suspected by some
to be linked to problems in human development. The U.S. department of Health
and Human Services has said in a new report that this link cannot be ruled out
at this time. However, the evidence does not paint a clear picture of the risks
associated with BPA.
In lab studies
exposure to high concentrations of BPA has been shown to be a problem in
animals, but exposure at the levels that a human might be exposed to is much
more difficult to assess. BPA is released from plastic when the plastic is
heated. The common suspicion is that exposure BPA as an infant, possibly from a
baby bottle, may lead to prostate or mammary problems in later life. Many
believe exposure of this nature may also increase the risk of developing
The American Chemistry Council, an industry group, said the
chemical doesn’t present major risks. Two federal reports last year concluded
that the chemical was safe, though those were criticized for using data
generated by the chemical industry, the WSJ reports.
Meanwhile, Canadian retailers are pulling water bottles and food storage containers off the shelves,
a day after the Globe and Mail reported that Health Canada, the Great White
North’s FDA, is set to label the chemical as a dangerous substance.
Concerned parents and consumers can limit their
exposure to BPA by purchasing items labeled BPA free. These items may cost a
little more but are becoming more readily available. Not heating BPA containing
plastics will also reduce the risk exposure to higher concentrations of BPA.