FDA Refuses to Ban BPA

Despite hundreds of studies linking bisphenol A—BPA—to adverse health effects, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) refuses to ban the estrogenic, polycarbonate plastic chemical that is a component in a growing number of consumer products.

The refusal was in response to a 2008 petition issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requesting a BPA ban. The FDA failed to respond to the petition when mandated by law and the NRDC followed with a federal lawsuit to compel an FDA decision. The FDA agreed to issue a decision by March 31.

On Friday, said The Los Angeles Times, the FDA announced that it will not ban BPA in food packaging, but would continue research the health effects of the ubiquitous chemical. “This is not a final safety determination on BPA,” said FDA spokesman Douglas Karas. “There is a commitment to doing a thorough evaluation of the risk of BPA,” he added, said The LA Times.

BPA, a compound that uses a combination of phenol and acetone, enters food when it leeches from food and beverage containers, and has been approved by the FDA for use in shatter-resistant polycarbonate plastic and durable epoxy resins. BPA leaches into products, whether heated or cold, and into the skin, from every day items such as paper money, toilet paper, and receipts. According to the LA Times, scientists believe that BPA metabolizes rather quickly, but has revealed negative health effects in mice.

We recently wrote that BPA may impact uterine health by affecting a mammal’s ability to reproduce, altering the uterus in structural ways that can lead to a potentially deadly infection. Another recent study revealed a link between BPA exposure and future cardiac issues and followed a similar study that yielded similar results. Another study on which we wrote revealed that small amounts of synthesized substances, such as BPA, are sufficient to mix up the body’s hormones and can trick fat cells into taking in more fat or confusing the pancreas into releasing too much insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible to regulate the breakdown of fat and carbohydrates in the body.

We’ve also written about at least two BPA-breast cancer links and links to increased anxiety and depression in preschoolers exposed to BPA in the womb. BPA has been linked to toxic injury and implications in cardiovascular disease, intestinal problems, brain cell connection interference, increased risks of reproductive and immune system diseases and disorders, problems with liver function testing, interruptions in chemotherapy treatment, premature puberty, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and other female fertility and endocrine issues, and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems in males as young as the developing fetus. Very significantly, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently said that BPA may affect the development of young and unborn children, noted Bloomberg.com.

According to the FDA, the scientific evidence presented in the NRDC petition “was not sufficient to persuade” the agency to ban the chemical in food packaging. For instance, said the LA Times, some of the studies dosing methods did not reflect how a person one would ingest BPA, and the FDA said it was concerned with sample sizes, which it said were insufficient. “FDA is performing, monitoring and reviewing new studies and data as they become available, and depending on the results, any of these studies or data could influence FDA’s assessment and future regulatory decisions about BPA,” wrote David Dorsey, the FDA’s acting associate commissioner for policy and planning, said The LA Times.

Dr. Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist with the NRDC, said, “We always support more research but we also wonder, when is enough enough?…. What the FDA is saying is: We’re going to keep studying it and in the meantime you’re going to still eat it and then maybe later we’ll tell you it’s not safe,” according to The LA Times.

Linda S. Birnbaum, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said that the agency was paying for experiments about BPA. “Our grantees have published nearly 100 papers since January 2010. Nothing has been published that says there isn’t any problem here,” she said. “On the other hand, there are still a lot of outstanding questions,” she said, adding “We want to have some surety that if BPA is removed from products, that what is put in its place is not a problem as well. ”

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