More Than Just A Maybe
As we are still feeling the impact of toy and juvenile product recalls due to unsafe levels of lead and Phthalates in a vast variety of products, an even more serious danger looms above us. The chemical in question is bisphenol A, also referred to as BPA. BPA has been a subject of major controversy over the potential threat it could have upon public health. We are not just speaking of children, but of the public as a whole.
A Growing Concern Spreads To The Major Retailers
For decades, BPA has been used in product manufacturing across the globe, primarily as an element which gives polycarbonate products such as baby bottles, CD/DVD's, water bottles and other juvenile products, their rigidity and strength making them almost unbreakable. Being a cost effective man-made element, BPA has contributed greatly to the creation of many of the most commonly used products we all use today.
Despite the popularity of using BPA in products today, the word "maybe" has been used quite often in reference to BPA being a health hazard, just as it was with lead and Phthalates levels in products. In a recent interview with Mr. Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, the potential threat of the use of BPA has become all too real. According to Mr. Schade, "BPA has no place in baby bottles, sippy cups, or children's toys." Mr. Schade continues with ..."Even the federal government now agrees that 'there is some concern for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures.'"
If this wasn't enough to cause a red flag to be waved, The National Toxicology Program, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has concluded that there was "some concern" that fetuses, babies and children were in danger because bisphenol A (BPA), harmed animals at low levels which are also found in nearly all human bodies. Is this just another "maybe"?
Consumers have begun to listen and speak up about their demand for "BPA Free Products". As a result, some of the major retail chains such as Target, Wal-Mart, and Babies-R-Us have begun to take steps to follow with similar opinions as those held by "The Center for Health, Environment and Justice". This has been demonstrated by their halting sales of not just baby bottles and sippy cups, but also including pacifiers, food containers and water bottles made with BPA strictly in its Canadian stores. Their reasoning for this appears to be speculation that Canada's health department would soon declare the
chemical unsafe for use. The impact of the demand for change doesn't stop there though. According to a number of other news sources and responses to my queries at some of the major chain retail stores, it appears that other retailers are also now stocking products that are made "BPA Free".
Top Level Scientists Deliver The Facts
Dr. Frederick vom Saal, PhD., a leading professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia and part of the Endocrine Disruptors Group at the facility, has been on the forefront of testing and analysis for establishing how BPA is in fact a loomimg threat which merits more attention than just a "maybe". In my interview with Dr. vom Saal, I quickly became frightfully aware of the serious danger with BPA that exists and how in fact it very well could be the catalyst for not just the next major toy and juvenile product recall, but in actuality become the catalyst for a change such as never before imagined!
The Great Debate
In my discussion with Dr. vom Saal, he made some very valuable points. "Although bisphenol A (BPA) is a man-made chemical designed to provide strength in polycarbonate materials, it mimics the estrogen hormone and can cause disruption of genetic systems." Dr. vom Saal continued on to say, "Spontaneous miscarriages, educational development, neurological aberrations, and ovarian diseases are just some the findings currently established in animals with new findings in humans just now being discovered." "Minimal epidemiological studies in humans are currently available to work with."
As we all know, two heads are better than one, so in order to gain added insight onto the dangers of BPA, I spoke with Dr. Patricia A. Hunt, PhD, genetic abnormalities expert of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Hunt also provided a generous level of information which the public should be privy to. According to Dr. Hunt, "In the human female, the incidence of pregnancy loss due to chromosome abnormalities is extraordinarily high." Dr. Hunter went on to say ..."Exposure of mice to the estrogen mimic, bisphenol A (BPA) provides an understanding that environmentally relevant doses of BPA could possibly cause oversights being carried on with ovulation." "BPA has proven that it can have a sexually dimorphic effect with females; emotional changes and more masculine behavioral traits develop."
Recent scientific studies on laboratory animals show it there is no question that it may have adverse health effects: breast and prostate cancer, thyroid disease, early puberty in girls, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, and obesity. Further studies in human blood and other testing will continue to gain a far greater understanding and definition of BPA and its detrimental effects upon humans as well as the environment.
It is interesting how once again, just as before the lead and Phthalates recall explosion occurred, on one side you have the professionals delivering a message that the fear of health risk is unsubstantiated and of no concern, while at the same time you have well known scientists providing substantial evidence to conclude that there is in fact good reason to be concerned.
The Reality Of Our Current Position
The situation we have here is much like a debate. On one side you have those who have gathered their information to conclude that their opponent's finding are invalid and inaccurate. On the other side of the room, you have those who have also done serious research and come up with a different conclusion.
There is an additional factor that needs to be taken into consideration for BOTH side of the debate. You have the economic result that occurs once one of the positions has been proven. This is where Dr. Frederick vom Saal, PhD and Dr. Patricia A. Hunt, PhD have taken a different approach. They are not taking the position of debate as to whether or not there is or is not an actual risk, instead, they are working to establish further studies that will help to provide a greater understanding of the impact from the use of BPA, and establish a reliable platform as to if the risks that are established in animals are similar or the same with humans. Rather than create a momentum of fear, efforts are being made to create a momentum of security and change.
BPA is an integral part of our lives without most people even being aware. Extensive study is being conducted to determine what level of risk to our health in actuality exists from our current amount of exposure. Based upon speculative evaluations, companies are beginning to remove their current products which have BPA in their chemical structure and are replacing them with "BPA Free" products. No one has an absolute answer of good or bad in reference to BPA and its impact in relation to our health or that of children. We are however armed with the knowledge of being able to make a choice. BPA free products are gradually being introduced into the retail chains and you can make a decision as to whether you will purchase those specific products, or choose to use what you always have.
The facts are clear as can be. BPA is used in a vast array of products which are a part of our lives. They range from prescription glasses to baby bottles. Could BPA be the catalyst to create the next major product recall? No one really has the answer to that question. It is important to realize that just because a threat may exist, it doesn't necessarily mean that the threat will become a reality. We can work to understand, determine the level of risk, and perhaps even eliminate it if we allow ourselves to do so.