The Food and Drug Administration ignored evidence when concluding that a chemical in plastic baby bottles is safe, according to an expert panel asked to review the agency’s handling of the controversial substance. Studies that the FDA ignored show that bisphenol A (BPA) could cause harm at levels at least ten times lower than the amount that the agency says is safe for babies, according to the panel’s report. The expert panel says the FDA was wrong to base its August safety decision on three industry-funded studies. Another government agency, the National Toxicology Program, had found that many other independent studies deserved consideration. That obviously bothered the panel members. Based on those independent studies, the toxicology program concluded in September that there is “some concern” that BPA alters development of the brain, prostate and behavior in children and fetuses.
The panel’s report concludes that excluding valuable scientific studies “creates a false sense of security” about BPA and “overlooks a wide range of potentially serious findings.” The FDA made other significant mistakes that have caused it to underestimate BPA’s potential dangers. The panel says in this regard:
• When measuring BPA levels in infant formula, for example, the FDA used only 14 cans of liquid formula, all purchased at the same time. Then, the FDA used the average BPA level found in these cans, which are lined with BPA. The panel notes that some babies whose formula comes from cans with above-average BPA levels may be exposed to far more of the chemical than others.
• The FDA also failed to consider the cumulative effect of being exposed to BPA from dozens of products. The FDA may have underestimated the true amount of BPA to which babies are exposed.
The new report was written by a subcommittee of the agency’s outside science board, a large group of experts that advises the FDA on complex issues. That larger board may decide to issue its own report to the FDA. The FDA said the new report “raises important questions” and that it’s planning to do additional research on BPA.
Critics have long contended that BPA, which acts like the hormone estrogen, can cause harm at extremely low doses. For example, the Environmental Working Group says BPA could cause brain, behavior and prostate damage at levels 500 times lower than the FDA’s proposed exposure limit. An advocacy group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, believes BPA is too toxic to use in baby products at all. The group has formally asked the FDA to remove BPA from food and beverage containers. Canada this month declared BPA to be toxic and announced plans to ban it in baby bottles.
Source: USA Today
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