Was There Life Before Polycarbonate Plastic? BPA Update

The FDA has released a draft statement about Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical used to make some water and baby bottles. The draft says, “Safe or safety means that there is reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use," but "complete certainty of absolute harmlessness is scientifically impossible to establish."

Consumer fears regarding the harmful effects of plastic bottles manufactured using Bisphenol A, has spawned much recent publicity. Though statements from plastic manufacturers and the FDA should allay some fears, the caveat remains - no one really seems completely certain. The FDA writes, “Based on our ongoing review, we believe there is a large body of evidence that indicates that FDA-regulated products containing BPA currently on the market are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from food contact materials, including for infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects. However, we will continue to consider new research and information as they become available.”

Still, a detectable level of Bisphenol A in the urine of 93% of Americans isn’t a natural state of affairs, even if BPA may not presently be connected to ill health. Many scientists agree there is cause for concern, especially for children. California legislators will meet in September to decide their take on the matter.

The FDA advises, "At this time, the FDA is not recommending that anyone discontinue using products that contain BPA while we continue our risk-assessment process. However, concerned consumers should know that several alternatives to polycarbonate baby bottles exist, including glass baby bottles."

Renee Sharp, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, says in a news release, “We have long since lost faith in FDA's ability to be an impartial authority on FDA's safety. Time and again, FDA has sided with special interests instead of the public interest on this chemical.”

Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, writes, “We are asking outside experts to review our work and are seeking as much technical input as possible. In September, we are holding a public meeting of such experts – as a subcommittee of our Science Board - to discuss FDA’s draft assessment of the safety of BPA in items that touch food.” The meeting will include oral and written presentations from the public. You can view the agenda here. If you’re interested, please do get involved.

In the meantime, we know three things for sure:

•There was life before polycarbonate plastics.

•Polycarbonate plastics make the news, and engage California legislators and the FDA in polycarbonate plastic related thinking and events.

•Plastics might be bad for our health.

Should controversy arise about duct tape, I don't know what we'll do.


Bisphenol A (BPA)
The FDA this week: Andy’s Take