Plastics with BPA may impact health
October 11, 2008
Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a chemical used to make plastic food and beverage containers, dental sealants and the resin lining in cans.

The Food and Drug Administration has concluded that exposure to BPA from food-grade plastics is below levels that may impact health. Consumer advocates and university researchers, including a University of Missouri researcher, disagree.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed urine samples of 2,517 people ages six and over who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004 (NHANES). Scientists detected BPA in the urine of nearly 93 percent of the people. Children had higher BPA levels than adults.

A “Journal of the American Medical Association” (JAMA) editorial by Frederick S. vom Saul (University of Missouri) and John Peterson Myers says researchers found a “significant relationship between urine concentrations of BPA and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver enzyme abnormalities in the US population.” This study was based on information from NHANES 2003-2004. The researchers said this is enough information to make follow-up studies a priority. The same JAMA article states that a National Institutes of Health sponsored expert panel, other government agency reports and the Canadian Ministry of Health agree that exposure to BPA during development puts the fetus and infant more at risk for negative effects.

Scientists believe BPA can act like the hormone estrogen. In animal studies estrogen has been linked to breast, prostate and other reproductive system problems as well as some cancers.

Canada has declared BPA a “toxic chemical” and is requiring aggressive action to limit human and environmental exposure. Many American researchers and a consumer advocates are pushing for similar measures in the United States.

According to an Associated Press article published Sept. 16, the Food and Drug Administration was recommending no change in habits as they relate to BPA exposure.

“A FDA representative did say that people could lower their exposure to BPA by avoiding plastic containers with the recycling number ‘7’ since many of those contain BPA. People could also refrain from warming food in those containers as heat helps release the chemical,” said Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Examples of the types of plastics that contain BPA are refillable drink containers, plastic eating utensils, baby bottles, and re-usable food containers. It is not found in plastic water and soda bottles, according to Roberts.

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