Bisphenol A (BPA) is currently one of the major lightning rods for controversy in consumer products and public health research. The compound is used in the manufacture of plastic bottles, polycarbonate (PC) in particular, as well as in the lining of many food and beverage cans. The compound has been recognized since the 1930s as having estrogenic activity but it appears to have developmental, carcinogenic, and neurotoxic effects at concentrations well below those at which it binds to the two forms of estrogen receptor.
US governmental advisory committees can't even agree on BPA. Public health blogger revere at Effect Measure posted last October about two conflicting reports from the US National Toxicology Program on the developmental risks of BPA - the contentious comment thread following the post is illustrative of the confusion surround BPA even among scientists. This 2005 review in Environmental Health Perspectives makes for a good introduction before delving into the current literature.
So if the scientists are confused, well guess what the public thinks? To shed light on this topic, award-winning medical journalists Joe and Terry Graedon will focus the next two shows of their NPR-syndicated The People's Pharmacy radio show on BPA and the larger issue of endocrine disruptors. This week's (1 March) guests are:
John McLachlan, PhD, Weatherhead Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Professor of Pharmacology at Tulane University and Director of the Tulane-Xavier Center for Bio-Environmental Research.
Randy Jirtle, PhD, Professor of Radiation Oncology at Duke University Medical Center
Frederick Vom Saal, PhD, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri at Columbia, Missouri.
The guests for next week's show have not yet been announced but are likely to include scientists even more closely involved in the BPA controversy.
In another timely and related issue, fellow blogger and environmental sciences student Karmen Franklin (Chaotic Utopia) just posted yesterday on the ubiquitous distribution of BPA and other estrogens in the pristine waters of Colorado. Karmen has a real gift and passion for writing about issues of the Rocky Mountain West and her current course of study at the University of Colorado at Boulder has provided her with even more opportunities to explore these interests.
I know John McLachlan and Fred vom Saal and I've heard Jirtle speak. This should be one helluva show. These are the big experts in the field. It will be interesting to see where they agree and disagree. Thanks for the heads up, Abel!