BPA Out of Baby Bottles

A lot of our coverage of bisphenol A, the endocrine-disrupting chemical present in a host of plastic products, has focused on the FDA’s outdated stance. The agency has insisted that BPA is safe at levels currently found in food and liquid containers, even though its own panel of science advisors has determined that the FDA’s position is flawed. The FDA bases its assessment heavily on two industry-funded studies, while dozens of other studies have found adverse effects at levels of exposure comparable to current levels for US residents.

While FDA has resisted changing its position on BPA, millions of parents have decided that they don’t want to risk their children’s neurological development. When the National Toxicology Program reported last spring that it had “some concern” about BPA’s effects on children and newborns, demand for BPA-free baby bottles soared.

Now, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announces that the nation’s six major baby-bottle companies have agreed to remove BPA from baby bottles. Blumenthal and the attorneys general of Delaware and New Jersey wrote to the companies in October and urged them to remove the chemical from their products; my guess is that potential California and federal legislation banning BPA children’s products also helped convince the companies it was time to act. In any case, Blumenthal is pleased that these companies will be removing BPA from baby bottles – but he’s not satisfied:

Voluntary BPA bans from baby bottles are good, but not good enough — and must lead to complete prohibition. BPA in baby products can perilously leach into liquid, threatening pernicious and lasting health damage to infants.

There is no excuse for this avoidable and unconscionable threat to continue. I am pleased that all baby bottle makers that I contacted have agreed to abandon BPA in baby bottles, but we must do more to protect our children. I am calling for a complete ban against BPA in baby products to stop this needless and negligent public health threat.

When government moves slowly on pressing public health threats (as it often does), it’s good for companies to go ahead and improve their products’ safety even without being legally required to do so. The danger, though, is that the public and our elected leaders will stop worrying so much about the problem once the worst aspect of it has been addressed, and will feel less motivated to push for a more-complete solution to the problem. Baby bottles may be the single largest source of BPA exposure for infants and young children, but there are plenty of other sources, like the lining of food cans. Pregnant women’s exposure to BPA, via food and liquid containers and other sources, can also affect their fetuses’ development. Getting BPA out of baby bottles is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

Comments

  1. #1 ackers
    March 14, 2009

    Small molecule toxicity and risk assesment is obviously not your specialty. I suggest you consult some real experts before you write on this subject. Your article assumes that BPA exposure is currently causing public health impact, but you couldnt be further from the truth. Stick to the science. The advisory panel didnt say BPA is a health threat, it said there were more accurate ways to do the risk assessment. That doesnt mean that BPA is a significant risk, just that assessing that risk could be more accurate. You also suggest that the fda only uses industry studies (false) implying that studies are some-how wrong (but you provide no evidence) and to support this you mention that there are many studies showing BPA is hazardous. (remember everything is hazardous, but only in certain contexts ..aka risk is not the same as hazard) What you miss is that a vast majority of these ‘dozens’ of studies use in-vitro or cell techniques which are most useful for studying mechanisms of effects, not quantifying the level of exposure that results in negative health. They are performed under conditions which do not exist when a human ingests food containing BPA. All these studies ignore the fact that human body metabolizes BPA in 6 hours, so they have limited value in setting a safe level. Also you misunderstanding becomes obvious when you state that bottles are the largest source of BPA. You are completely wrong. ALL the science points to can coatings being the largest source. If you cant get that simple fact right, why should we trust the rest of you article. You are in way over your head. Get help.