Nalgene Nixes Plastic Bottles with BPA

Hard-plastic Nalgene water bottles, made with <"">bisphenol A—BPA, are going to be pulled from stores over the next few months in light of increasing consumer worries over the risks associated with BPA.  Nalge Nunc International, a division of Waltham, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., said Friday it will substitute its Nalgene Outdoor line of polycarbonate plastic containers with BPA-free alternatives.  “By eliminating containers containing BPA from our consumer product mix, our customers can have confidence that their needs are being met,” Steven Silverman, general manager of the Nalgene business, announced.

BPA is a fairly ubiquitous chemical used in polycarbonate plastic products, including baby bottles and metal can coatings that could be linked to a range of hormonal problems, according to a recent and preliminary government report developed by a group of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Institutes of Health (NIH).  The federal National Toxicology Program said experiments on rats found precancerous tumors, urinary tract problems, and early puberty when animals were fed or injected with low doses of BPA.  With over six million pounds produced in the United States each year, BPA is found in dental sealants, the liners of food cans, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses, and hundreds of household goods.  Over 90 percent of Americans are exposed to trace amounts of BPA, according to the CDC and last month said animal testing revealed BPA has hormone-like effects on the reproductive system.

In the lab, BPA has been linked to a variety of sex-hormone-imbalances, including breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, miscarriage, low sperm count, and immune-system changes.  “The reproductive system is developing, the brain is developing, the immune system is developing,” said David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany.  Knowing that, he said, it is “absolutely obscene” to expose infants to BPA.  The National Toxicology Program’s Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction convened an expert panel last month to determine if BPA is hazardous to humans, including developing babies.  The panel found risk and exposure causes neural and behavioral effects in children.

In November, the FDA said there is “no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict its use”; however, legislation has been proposed in several US states to limit or ban BPA use and some stores have pulled polycarbonate bottles.  Also, earlier this month, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill to ban the sale of all products containing BPA and Canada’s health agency is examining the health risks of BPA with findings to be released shortly and a major Canadian retailer removed Nalgene and other polycarbonate plastic containers from store shelves in early December.

Nalgene bottles are reusable, transparent, and made at a factory in suburban Rochester.  In 2000, a new sports line of Nalgene-brand bottles offered in red, blue, and yellow were extremely popular in high schools and on college campuses.  Highly durable and lightweight, resistant to stains and odors, and able to withstand extremes of hot and cold, screw-cap Nalgene bottles are marketed as an environmentally responsible substitute for disposable water bottles.

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