April 30, 2003
used in plastics is toxic, dangerous, Mizzou researcher says
By BILL SMITH 04/29/2003
controversial chemical used to make common hard plastic items such
as drinking glasses and food-storage containers is a serious public
health hazard and should be banned, a researcher at the University
of Missouri at Columbia insists.
researcher, Fred vom Saal, was expected to take his plea to a meeting
of scientists and environmental experts at the Toxicology and Risk
Assessment Conference near Dayton, Ohio, this week. The conference
is sponsored by several governmental agencies, including the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency. The agencies study the potential
dangers of chemicals.
chemical, bisphenol A, or BPA, is an artificial estrogen used to
create the plastic polycarbonate. It is also used in resins to line
some metal cans and in the manufacture of some dental sealants.
is commonly found in hard plastic drinking glasses, some microwavable
food containers and plastic baby bottles.
about bisphenol A
new study, released this month by geneticists at Case Western
Reserve University in Cleveland, showed that even low doses of BPA
in adult female mice caused chromosomal changes that could lead
to birth defects.
a result, many researchers believe that BPA also presents a hazard
to humans, although no direct link has been proven.
danger is apparent to almost anyone," said Wade Welshons, a
veterinary medicine researcher who has worked with vom Saal in BPA
research for 13 years.
said BPA-related products generate $10 billion a year for the plastics
said the Case Western research is the first to show that BPA is
dangerous not only during certain crucial periods of pregnancy,
but "all the time, particularly in women."
said earlier research by himself and vom Saal showed that the offspring
of female mice that ingested small amounts of BPA showed a variety
of abnormalities including enlarged prostrates in males, heavier
body weight in both males and females and earlier onset of puberty
the Case Western study, though, Welshons said researchers believed
that exposure could be avoided simply by staying away from BPA during
pregnancy. The Case Western study found that BPA can lie inside
the mother like a time bomb ready to detonate once she becomes pregnant,
plastics industry continues to play down the dangers of BPA. A Web
site sponsored by the Bisphenol A Industry Group of the American
Plastics Council says that other studies "clearly support the
safety of BPA and provide strong reassurance that there is no basis
for human health concerns from exposure to environmentally relevant
doses of BPA."
industry also notes that the use of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy
resins for food contact applications is recognized as safe by the
Food and Drug Administration, as well as other regulatory authorities
around the world.
Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate Business Unit of
the American Plastics Council, said Tuesday that an industry-financed
study completed last year on four generations of laboratory rats
showed no birth defects resulting from lower dosages of BPA. Only
when extremely high dosages were administered, enough to poison
the animals, did researchers see health effects. Hentges called
the study the most comprehensive ever done on BPA and animal reproduction.
Saal was en route to Ohio Tuesday for his talk today and could not
containing BPA are usually readily identifiable by a triangular
recycling label with the number "7" in the center.