The U.S. Food and Drug Administration won’t tell consumers to stop using products such as baby bottles made with BPA, a controversial chemical found in many plastic items, and that should concern the public. Norris Alderson, the FDA’s associate commissioner for science, says that, although the regulatory agency is reviewing safety concerns about the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), “a large body of available evidence” shows that products such as liquid or food containers made with BPA are safe. He made this statement in testimony before a Senate subcommittee. Alderson heads the FDA task force that is reviewing safety concerns surrounding BPA. The FDA’s reliance on two industry-funded studies were cited for the agency’s determining that products containing BPA are apparently safe. As we have reported, however, many studies have found a variety of health problems in laboratory animals exposed to BPA.
Some senators faulted the FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission for failing to protect consumers in this country from BPA as well as phthalates, a class of chemicals used to improve flexibility in plastics. In March, the Senate passed legislation that would impose a nationwide ban on phthalates in children’s toys and products. New York Senator Charles Schumer was critical of the FDA and said the agency was “looking the other way” on safety concerns about BPA. The bill, introduced in April to ban BPA in children’s products, also would direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study health effects of BPA in children and adults. Consumer groups and other critics have accused the FDA of failing to act on safety concerns regarding BPA and other issues, bowing instead to industry positions.
A draft report, issued in April by the National Toxicology Program, part of the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health, expressed some concern that BPA had the potential to cause neurological and behavioral problems in fetuses, infants and children. That should be enough to at least put the FDA on notice that there may be a serious problem with BPA. Relying on animal studies, the National Toxicology Program said there was evidence suggesting links between BPA exposure and early puberty and prostate and breast cancer in people. The National Toxicology Program is the first federal agency to embrace such concerns.
It’s reported that some retailers, including Wal-Mart and Toys R Us, will stop selling certain items made with BPA. As has been reported, BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, a clear shatter-resistant material in products ranging from baby and water bottles to sports safety equipment and medical devices. It also is used to make durable epoxy resins used as the coating in most food and beverage cans and in dental fillings. People can consume BPA when it leaches out of plastic into liquid such as baby formula, water or food inside a container.
Source: Associated Press
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