Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reporting on bisphenol-a or BPA

Have the recent reports on the dangers of BPA been overly alarmist? This related article seems to call for a pause:

Here is where it gets a little tricky. The first group concluded that most people’s exposure to the chemical was well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard. ... Nonetheless, the panel expressed “some concern” that the chemical could cause behavioral and neurological problems in developing fetuses and young children. For more information, go to www. niehs.nih.gov. ... But Professor vom Saal, the lead author of the scientists’ report, said their findings were far less benign. “There is a very high level of concern about the potential harm caused by bisphenol A in animals,” he said, including potential for diabetes, cancer and obesity. “The prediction by this panel is that we can expect similar harm in people.”
“If I was to use plastic, I would stay with No. 2 and No. 5,” Professor vom Saal said. No. 2 is high-density polyethylene; No. 5 is polypropylene. Both are used in margarine tubs and yogurt containers for example. ... But, he warned, do not heat anything in any type of plastic in the microwave.

Oh, oh - I heat food in plastic containers all the time. They say microwaveable and we also do a lot of takeout. (I did look around our house for No. 7 bottles but didn't find any.) From another report:

Although many plastic products claim to be microwave safe, some scientists warn against putting any plastic in the microwave. “There is such a wide variety now, from disposable containers to actual Tupperware,” says Dr. Anila Jacob, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based advocacy group. “I don’t know of anyone who has done definitive testing of all these different types of plastic containers to see what is leaching into food.”

In the same report:
How much BPA are we exposed to?
BPA migrates into food from polycarbonate plastic bottles or the epoxy resin coatings that line canned food. The typical adult ingests an estimated 1 microgram of BPA for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Babies who use polycarbonate bottles and formula from cans get more, an estimated 10 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. A microgram represents a trace amount. Consider this: a single M&M is about a gram. If you cut it into 100,000 slices, one slice would equal about 10 micrograms.

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