Angela Logomasini

by Angela Logomasini, Ph.D.


Click here to read the full report in PDF format

 

 Executive Summary

During the past several years, a chemical used to make baby bottles and other plastic products has been making headlines. Activists suggest it can put infants at risk. Groups like the Washington Toxics Coalition claim that this chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), is “toxic” and could cause cancer and a number of other ailments.

The Children’s Safe Products Act of 2009 (HB 2367) was introduced in the Oregon House of Representatives in 2009.[1] It would have regulated chemicals in children’s toys, including BPA. But activists like the Oregon Environmental Council and Environment Oregon are also pushing legislation that focuses on BPA in food products and containers, such as baby bottles and canned goods-proposals likely to appear on the 2010 legislative agenda.[2]

WHAT IS BPA? Bisphenol A is a chemical intermediary used in the manufacturing of certain products, including polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. These plastics are used in a variety of products: baby bottles, five-gallon water jugs used in water coolers, medical equipment, sports safety equipment, cell phones and other consumer electronics, household appliances, and many other products. The resins are used for industrial flooring, adhesives, primers, coatings, and computer components. Its applications for food packaging and containers, particularly uses for water cooler jugs, canned foods, and baby bottles, have been the focus of much debate.

NEGLIBLE RISK. In wide use for over fifty years, BPA has been extensively studied. The best science tells us that consumer exposure to BPA is far below levels of concern. An analysis published in Medscape General Medicine reveals that consumers are most likely exposed to BPA at levels that are 100 to 1,000 times lower than the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimated safe exposure levels.[3] It notes further that the research on BPA also shows that the exposure levels per body weight are similar for adults and children, which indicates that infant exposure is not significantly higher. Moreover, risks to humans are probably much lower than these estimates suggest because humans metabolize BPA faster and better than do the rodents used in BPA studies.

Endocrine Science. Scientific research identifies BPA as “weakly estrogenic.”[4] Humans are regularly exposed to such estrogen mimicking compounds. Most are produced by plants: so-called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are found in all legumes, with a particularly high level found in soy. The impact of weakly estrogenic synthetic substances like BPA is insignificant compared to human exposures to naturally occurring phytoestrogens in the human diet. According to data from a 1999 National Academy of Sciences study, exposure to natural phytoestrogens is 100,000 to 1 million times higher than exposure to estrogen-mimicking substances found in BPA.[5] “Given the huge relative disparity between the exposure to phytoestrogens as compared to BPA concentrations, the risk of BPA in consumer products appears to be about the same as tablespoon of soy milk,” notes researcher Jonathan Tolman.[6]

COMPREHENSIVE STUDIES AND REVIEWS. Scientific panels around the world have reviewed, and continue to review, the complete body of evidence; and none report serious concerns about BPA. These include:

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Several FDA reviews have maintained that current BPA exposures are too low to warrants significant health concerns. After its most recent review, the FDA initiated additional research in one area based on findings in recommendations for further study by the National Toxicology Program.
  • The European Union Risk Assessment. The EU’s risk assessments in 2006 and 2008[8] find no compelling evidence of BPA-related health effects at estimated human exposure levels.
  • National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Japan). This extensive study found: “the risks posed by BPA were below the levels of concern.”[9]
  • U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP). This review found no direct evidence of problems among humans. It expressed minimal to negligible concern for almost all factors. It called for more research in one area where it had only “some concern” because of rodent studies.
  • Health Canada: “Health Canada’s Food Directorate has concluded that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.”[10]

CONCLUSION. BPA bans will do little for public health, since they do not address significant risks. They are part of an ever-expanding arbitrary regulatory state that places many valuable products and freedoms at risk.


[1] Oregon House of Representatives, HB 2367 “Children’s Safe Products Act of 2009,” 2009 session, http://www.leg.state.or.us/09reg/measures/hb2300.dir/hb2367.intro.html.

[2] For example, see Oregon Environmental Council, “Protecting Children’s Health from Toxic BPA,” Fact Sheet, undated, http://oec.otis.onenw.org/our-work/smart-policy/2010-legislative-fact-sheets/2010%20BPA%20BAN%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf; and Environment Oregon, “Protect Kids’ Health, Ban Toxic BPA,” undated, http://www.environmentoregon.org/airwater/banbpa.

[3] Kamrin, MA, “Bisphenol A: A Scientific Evaluation,” Medscape General Medicine, September 3, 2004. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/484739 (You must register with the site to read this article. Registration is free.), citing European Commission’s Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on Bisphenol A, available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/scf/out128_en.pdf, accessed August 13, 2004.

[4] Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction, National Toxicology Program, NTP-CERHR Monograph on the Potential Human Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Bisphenol A (Bethesda, Md.: National Institutes of Health, September 2008), NIH pub no. 08-5994, http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/chemicals/bisphenol/bisphenol.pdf, 9.

[5] National Research Council, Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 1999); see also Jonathan Tolman, Nature’s Hormone Factory: Endocrine Disrupters in the Natural Environment, (Washington, D.C.: Competitive Enterprise Institute, January 1996), http://cei.org/pdf/1455.pdf.

[6] Jonathan Tolman, “Even Less to Fear About Plastics,” Open Market (blog), April 16, 2008, http://www.openmarket.org/2008/04/16/even-less-to-fear-about-plastics.

[7] Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food on a request from the Commission related to 2,2-BIS(4-HYDROXYPHENYL)PROPANE (Bisphenol A, Question number EFSA-Q-2005-100, Adopted on 29 November 2006, European Food Safety Administration Journal 248: (2006) 428, http://www.efsa.europa.eu/cs/BlobServer/Scientific_Opinion/afc_op_ej428_bpa_op_en,3.pdf?ssbinary=true.

[8] European Food Safety Authority, “EFSA Updates Advice on Bisphenol,” Press Release, July 23, 2008, http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1211902017373.htm.

[9] Junko Nakanishi, Ken-ichi Miyamoto, and Hajime Kawasaki, Bisphenol A Risk Assessment Document, (AIST Risk Assessment Document Series No. 4), “Summary,” (Japan: National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, 2007), http://unit.aist.go.jp/riss/crm/mainmenu/BPA_Summary_English.pdf.

[10] Health Risk Assessment of Bisphenol A from Food Packaging Applications, Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate Health Products and Food Branch (Ottawa: Health Canada, August 2008), 10, http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/alt_formats/hpfb-dgpsa/pdf/securit/bpa_hra-ers-eng.pdf.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

7 thoughts on “The Nanny State Attack on BPA: Oregon and Beyond

  1. Increasing research shows damage from endocrine disruptors. Their use in products will be increasingly called into question. Companies using these products are poor investment risks and could have some liability risks in the future as well. They have had a pass because the companies using these substances were the ones funding the research. While that is still largely the case, independent researchers, both here and offshore, are replicating pretty dramatic experiments.

    The most interesting one I know of offhand is that concerning alligators in Lake Apopka in Florida. Birth defects were observed in male alligators, and these defects were replicated in succeeding generations when unaffected alligators were exposed to the contaminated water in the lake. This wasn’t specifically Bis A, but the story is cautionary because endocrine disruptors behave similarly and are active at low concentrations and where other contaminants are present as well.

    Some of the independent scientists who do this research are very motivated to prevent damage to fetuses and young children. They do not make the kind of money that many industry employees make. People are asking for this legislation because deformed fish in the Potomac and other places are getting more airplay.

    With the issues of corruption all around us, I think the Cascade Policy Institute would do better with a focus on that.

    There are many instances of bad science from the alphabet agencies because of undue influence. The pharmaceutical industry is another example where independent scientists are beginning to catch them, sometimes with the industry’s own research, in regression analyses, and in other ways. Joseph Biederman, of Harvard, among others, have been outed this year. University research funded by industries which stood to profit are increasingly getting busted for conflicts of interest and other misbehaviors.

    Another example of the revolving-door and self-dealing is the terrible idea to bury Portland’s water in concrete, in radon-land.

    It makes sense to bury water in sandstone deserts where evaporation is a serious problem. In Portland, radon is widespread. Radon is readily soluble in water, while it gases off in open storage.

    Research on water buried with radon is also coming from Florida, where there are areas with clusters of brain tumors in children.

    The research on buried covered storage is available on the website of Friends of the Reservoirs and on citizensforportlandswater.org

    It is a corrupt EPA which is trying to force third liens and incredible debt loads on Portland ratepayers, to pay for the kind of buried storage where there have been proved instances of death and illness.

    Tipper Gore’s relative, Michael Taylor, was appointed head of a food safety bureau. He is about as bad as could have been appointed, a promoter of rBGH use in dairy cattle. Monsanto has had to sell rBGH to Eli Lilly because of consumer resistance. Taylor tried to prevent farmers from labeling their products as free of this substance. Physicians in Oregon have had a post card campaign to the dairy companies because they believe that the agencies and congress are so corrupt that it is necessary to go directly to the corruptors to get change.

    Big agricultural companies that have used governments to extract special privileges and harmful subsidies have begun to lose some lawsuits. Pesticide and GM pollen drift are issues where change is afoot.

    I would like to see Cascade Policy Institute looking in to the corruption issues and looking out for little guys caught in bureaucratic purgatory, such as the small farmer and his daughter who wanted to grow non-GMO canola, but were stopped by Oregon agricultural code that would not allow them to grow any brassicas, not just canola. In his area, this farmer’s neighbors were told to grow meadowfoam, which they did, but then they could not sell it. So, the original farmer can buy seeds, but if he plants them, they will be confiscated before they flower, and he will be fined. How is he to live?

    I know of this because I volunteered to audit an Oregon state board of agriculture meeting for Friends of Family Farmers. I was pretty stunned by some of what I learned. Grocery stores now have their own testing labs because they don’t want recalls. Farmers should know this. It probably means farmers should test as well.

    I am a cancer survivor, and I have researched carefully on many of these issues. We are on cusps of change, and many ways of doing things in the recent past will be running into rough waters in the future. Where a search of endocrine disruptors used to bring up corporate sites full of assertions that everything is fine, that is no longer the case. There are also increasing numbers of health professionals counseling all sorts of other choices concerning sadness/depression rather than medications first. People on public assistance are being over-medicated, and that is worthy of research.

  2. Most people are getting tired of the fear mongering about everything. It is like the boy crying wolf. When a “real” danger/threat” occurs no one will pay attention. I’, too am a cancer survivor (two times) and the fact that the FDA is so strongly in support of big Pharma concerns me. I have read several reports about the issue above, and also about how the pharmaceutical would like to be in control of vitamins AKA natural remedies. More people are educating themselves about prescription drugs and turning to a more natural treatment. With approximately 55% of our food being imported, the movement to buy USA/local, should be even more important in the future. Plastic baby bottle? Doesn’t our State legislators have anything better to address? How bout the economy for starters.

  3. Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely fantastic. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it smart. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is really a wonderful website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *