(NaturalNews) For decades, the federal government and chemical-makers have assured the public that the hormone-mimicking compound Bisphenol-A is safe. This chemical is found in baby bottles, aluminum cans and hundreds of other household products.
But a recent investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found that studies and research are heavily funded by the same companies that produce the chemical. The article states that 80% of academically and government-funded research found that bisphenol-A is harmful in laboratory animals. Most of the industry-funded studies found there was no harm.
Last week, a panel commissioned by the National Toxicology Program released a report finding bisphenol-A to be of some concern for fetuses and small children. The report stated that adults have almost nothing to worry about.
Recommendations from the report could be used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators to assess federal policies on how much bisphenol-A is safe and may have huge ramifications for the multibillion-dollar chemical industry.
The panel said it considered more than 700 studies by university scientists, government researchers and industry-funded chemists. It picked the work it felt was best and threw out the rest. The Journal Sentinel found that panel members gave more weight to industry-funded studies and more leeway to industry-funded researchers.
What Is Bisphenol-A?
Bisphenol-A is a chemical compound containing two phenol functional groups, belonging to the phenol class of aromatic organic compounds. It is widely prepared and sold, and various important polymers/plastics are made from it. Bisphenol-A was detected in the urine of 93% of participants in a recent study.
Harmful side-effects to bisphenol-A exposure:
* Breast cancer
* Testicular cancer
* Low sperm counts
* Other reproductive failures
Bisphenol-A was first synthesized by A.P. Dianin in 1891. It was investigated in the 1930s during the search for synthetic estrogens. At that time, another synthetic compound called diethylstilbestrol was determined to be more powerful than estrogen itself, so bisphenol-A was not used as a synthetic estrogen. In the 1950s scientists discovered the chemical could be used to make polycarbonate plastic and some epoxy resins to line food and beverage cans.
Its current uses are as a primary monomer in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Bisphenol-A is also used as an antioxidant in plasticizers and as a polymerization inhibitor in PVC. Polycarbonates are widely used in many consumer products, including sunglasses, CDs, water and food containers, and shatter-resistant baby bottles. Some polymers used in dental fillings also contain bisphenol-A, while epoxy resins containing the chemical are popular coatings for the inside of food cans.
Why Does Bisphenol-A Cause So Many Problems?
Bisphenol-A mimics naturally occurring estrogen, a hormone that is part of the endocrine system, the body's finely tuned messaging service. "These hormones control the development of the brain, the reproductive system and many other systems in the developing fetus," says Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can duplicate, block or exaggerate hormonal responses. "The most harm is to the unborn or newborn child," vom Saal says.
The first evidence of the estrogenicity of bisphenol-A came from experiments in the 1930s in which it was fed to ovariectomized rats. Some hormone disrupting effects in studies on animals and human cancer cells have been shown to occur at levels as low as 2-5 ppb (parts per billion). It has been claimed that these effects lead to health problems such as, in men, lowered sperm count and infertile sperm. Recent studies have confirmed that bisphenol-A exposure during development has carcinogenic effects and produce precursors of breast cancer. Bisphenol-A has been shown to have developmental toxicity, carcinogenic effects, and possible neurotoxicity. Recent studies suggest it may also be linked to obesity by triggering fat-cell activity.
Who Manufactures Bisphenol A?
* Bayer Material Science
* Dow Chemical Co.
* General Electric Co.
* Hexion Specialty Chemicals Inc.
* Sunoco Chemicals
The website (www.bisphenol-a.org) is sponsored by the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, which is organized regionally at the American Chemistry Council, PlasticsEurope, and the Japan Chemical Industry Association. This statement appears on the website:
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently published biomonitoring data on bisphenol-A from a large-scale study that is representative of the U.S. population. That data indicates that typical human daily intake of bisphenol-A is approximately 50 nanograms/kg bodyweight/day. These levels are about 1 million times below the levels where no adverse effects on reproduction and development were observed in comprehensive multi-generation animal studies. Likewise, these levels are about 1 thousand times below lifetime daily intake levels conservatively set by government bodies in the U.S. and Europe. Exposures below the lifetime daily intake levels are expected to have no adverse effect on health.
The website also states that bisphenol-A is completely safe unless you ingest 1,300 pounds of canned and bottled food daily. In other words, even a canned-food addict will likely ingest 500 times less BPA than the danger level set by the EPA and 100 times less than the standard set by the European Commission Scientific Committee on Food.
Why Aren’t There Bisphenol-A Labels?
Numerous government agencies around the world have agreed with industry trade groups such as the American Chemistry Council that bisphenol-A is safe and restrictions and labeling aren't needed. They include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, the European Union and the European Food Safety Authority. "It is apparent that there is no need for additional legislation or regulation for bisphenol-A," said the chemistry council in a statement. "Existing regulatory processes are adequate to protect human health."
But many researchers disagree, saying the federal government should be safe rather than sorry - that chemicals whose safety is in question shouldn't be used unless they can be proven safe. One is Laura Vandenburg, who worked on six BPA studies at Tufts University in Massachusetts. She said it's almost impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that BPA can harm people because we can't ethically do experiments on human beings with it, and it's hard to isolate a group of people who aren't exposed to it. But she believes it is dangerous to people.
How Can I Minimize My Exposure to Bisphenol-A?
* Purchase products that state they are Bisphenol-A free.
* Use plastics that have the recycling numbers 1, 2, or 5. Avoid the recycling numbers 3 `(polycarbonate) or 7 (PVC).
* Use glass baby bottles or those labeled “bisphenol A free.” One company that makes plastic baby bottles with Bisphenol-A is Born Free.
* Wait until food cools before placing it in plastic containers.
* Put filters on taps to prevent PVC from pipes from leaking into the water you and others consume.
* Use wooden toys for children and avoid soft plastic toys that small children may put in their mouths.
* Avoid vinyl shower curtains.
* Purchase deodorants and soaps that are fragrance free.
John is an experienced professional in the field of wellness. Along with a BS degree in Exercise Science & Health Promotion, the author also has a BA in Journalism and is in progress on a MA in Health Studies. Among the author's many forthcoming projects are an independent wellness consulting business and a health-related website, along with many articles and books.