Bisphenol A (BPA) is currently banned in a checkered way across the United States and across the world. Canada and all the European Union have banned BPA in some uses, and now China and Malaysia have too. So where is the US at a federal level in regards to BPA regulation, you might wonder?
Well, wonder no more. Today the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that because BPA has been shown to cause reproductive and developmental effects in animal studies, EPA is requesting public comment on possible toxicity testing and environmental sampling to study BPA’s potential environmental impacts.
BPA lines a can of worms. BPA is a chemical that has, in fact, been shown to mimic estrogen and has been linked to increased risk of cancer, altered brain development, early puberty and other metabolic changes. We’ve avoided discussing it in this blog because – frankly – it’s a can of worms.
You might think we mean the “public perception vs. industry interests” can of worms, but what we really mean is another can: many types of plastics, not just BPA, have tested positively for endocrine manipulation.
Time magazine pointed out a recent study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives where researchers found that many plastic products leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals — even products labeled “BPA-free.”
In the study, researchers tested 455 common plastic products and found that 70% tested positive for estrogenic activity [EA]. Once those products were subject to real-world conditions—microwaving or dishwashing—the number rose to 95%. The study concluded: Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled, independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source, leached chemicals having reliably-detectable EA [estrogenic activity], including those advertised as BPA-free. In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA [estrogenic activity] than BPA-containing products.
Given that context, it sometimes seems there’s a witch hunt on for BPA. But if BPA is going to serve as a regulatory driver for health issues associated with consuming food stored or served in plastics in so many countries around the world, it’s likely to be at least discussed here in the U.S. too. The comments to EPA will likely be a rousing debate — so keep an eye on the discussions!