In recent years, many research and news organizations have published reports about the toxicity of Bisphenol A (commonly called BPA). If you’ve kept up on this topic, you know BPA is in many food and beverage containers (including in the lining of metal cans that hold vegetables, soups and beans) and that it’s a potent endocrine disruptor that acts as a hormone in the human body.
In a recent interview published by Yale Environment 360, BPA researcher Frederick vom Saal of the University of Missouri’s Endocrine Disruptor Group provides some no-nonsense information about BPA and harshly criticizes government oversight of this powerful chemical. Here are some quick facts from the interview.
BPA is derived from petroleum. It was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use as a food contact material in 1963. There are more than 100,000 chemicals in commerce, but the U.S. government only has regulatory authority over a percentage of those. In the 1970s, it “grandfathered” in 62,000 chemicals—including BPA—through the Toxic Substances Control Act. That means there is basically no regulatory oversight of this chemical. The Food and Drug Administration came out in 2010 and said it agreed with many researchers that BPA is a concern, but that it doesn’t have the authority to ban or regulate it.
BPA has been linked to early puberty, many types of cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, impaired memory, asthma, allergies and low sperm counts. It damages every part of the human reproductive system.
The common rationalization you hear about BPA being in contact with our foods and beverages is that it’s at such a low level, we don’t need to worry. However, vom Saal explained that his team used human breast cancer cells to study estrogen chemicals for their potency, and BPA lit up like a Christmas tree. He says even at extremely low levels, BPA is anything but weak. The chemical industry threatened vom Saal and his research team, asking them not to publish their findings on BPA.
Of studies funded by the chemical industry, 100 percent say that BPA is safe. However, when you look at the entire body of research studies on BPA, 90 percent of non-industry-funded studies find that BPA is harmful to humans.
The clear message I took away from this interview is that we have to protect and educate ourselves and each other. No government agency is going to make sure the products on grocery store shelves are safe. Please pass this information on.
To learn more about BPA, check out the following resources (the first link is the complete interview with vom Saal):
- Is There Poison in Our Food? Concerns About BPA
- Eating Fresh Food Drastically Reduces BPA Levels, Study Finds
- Plastics: What’s Dangerous, What’s Not
- China Leaps Ahead of U.S. With BPA Ban
We will keep you informed of any developments.