by Cassandra R. Elias
The Federal Food and Drug Administration announced in July 2012 that baby bottles and sippy cups can no longer contain BPA. Bisphenol-A remains a legal ingredient in other plastics, despite growing concern about the possible health risks.
The American Chemistry Council, the U.S. chemical industry's chief association, had asked the FDA to phase out rules allowing BPA in these products in October, after determining that all manufacturers of bottles and sippy cups had already abandoned the chemical due to safety concerns and consumer pressure.
"Once again, the FDA has come so late to the party that the public and the marketplace have already left," said Jason Rano, Director of Government Affairs for Environmental Working Group in a news release. "If the agency truly wants to prevent people from being exposed to this toxic chemical associated with a variety of serious and chronic conditions, it should ban its use in cans of infant formula, food and beverages."
The chemical is currently banned in some types of containers in 11 U.S. states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Laws in Canada, the European Union, China, Malaysia, South Africa and Argentina also prohibit BPA in products intended for small children. Australia and Japan have initiated voluntary bans.
The federal government has been debating the safety of BPA for more than four years. The FDA initially said in 2008 that the trace amounts of BPA that leach out of food containers were not dangerous.
Then in 2010, the FDA revised its opinion and expressed concern about the chemical's impact on the brain and reproductive system of infants, babies and young children.
After the California ban was passed in October, 2011, the chemical industry dropped its objection to banning BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups.
Earlier this year the agency denied a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council which would have banned the use of BPA in all food containers. The FDA said it is awaiting results from federally-funded studies on the safety of BPA.
Bisphenol-A is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the hormone system, causing problems, particularly when exposures occur during pregnancy or in early life.
Trace amounts of chemicals like BPA have been associated with a wide range of adverse health effects, including increased risk of breast and prostate cancer (in animal models), infertility in men and women, early puberty in girls, metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes and obesity, and neurobehavioral problems.
Researchers say ingesting the chemical can interfere with reproductive and nervous systems development in babies and young children. Others, including FDA, say that the science is still inconclusive on whether our exposure to BPA is enough to cause harm.
Recent research has linked BPA to behavioral problems in girls. A study last October in "Pediatrics" found pregnant moms with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to have daughters who were more aggressive, hyperactive, anxious or depressed.
The CDC released a study indicating that children with the highest levels of BPA were at the greatest risk of obesity.
A study published "Pediatrics" tied BPA found in newer tooth fillings to a slightly elevated risk of behavioral problems in kids such as depression and anxiety.
The Boston Herald reports, "that in epidemiological studies, researchers have reported correlations between BPA levels in people and higher risk of ailments including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver problems."
Are you comfortable with the current regulations and restrictions on BPA or would you prefer more stringent rulings?