Notes on disputed chemical: The janitor did it

Some topics suitable for discussion in Watching Our Water Ways are important but a bit overwhelming. Such is the case with the debate over bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical used in some hard plastics.

The debate involves how much of this chemical gets into the human body from various sources and whether the levels create a health risk that warrants banning the substance.

While hard-core scientists work on the problem and debate the conflicting studies, I was alerted to a story worth reading just for the fun of it. Scientific American carried the article on BPA subtitled: “Patricia Hunt, who helped to bring the issue to light a decade ago, is still trying to sort it all out.”

It begins with this:

On the day Patricia Hunt’s career veered into an entirely different field, her graduate students at Case Western Reserve University were grumbling, itching to use some exciting new data in their own experiments, but were told to wait while Hunt (just one last time) checked on her subjects.

Hunt, a geneticist, was exploring why human reproduction is so rife with complications… All she needed was to ensure that her control population, the mice left alone in the study, was normal. Instead Hunt stumbled on a disturbing result—40 percent had egg defects.

Hunt shelved hopes of publication and scrutinized every method and piece of lab equipment used in her experiment. Four months later she finally fingered a suspect.

It was the janitor. In the laboratory. With the floor cleaner.

You’ll have to click over to Scientific American for the rest, including a photo of the “accidental toxicologist.”

3 thoughts on “Notes on disputed chemical: The janitor did it

  1. “…In recent years dozens of scientists around the globe have linked BPA to myriad health effects in rodents: mammary and prostate cancer, genital defects in males, early onset of puberty in females, obesity and even behavior problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder….”

    Interesting. It seems to me that during the past half decade the news has commented on increased breast and prostate cancer, early puberty in females, obesity, and increased hyperactivity disorder.

    ‘Something’ has to trigger the phenomenon …why not floor cleaners and products containing bisphenol-A?

    The manufacturers using bisphenol-A will do all they can to claim it isn’t so…much as the cigarette manufacturers claimed they did not use additives in their tobacco in order to addict smokers.

    Just as it was proved the cigarette manufacturers DID use additives to ‘hook’ the smokers, it will pay the consumer to’think’about the possibilities from using such products.

    “Natural – organic” aren’t just buzz words…in my opinion.
    Sharon O’Hara

    Thanks, Chris… a whole world full of possibilities and we can thank Patricia Hunt for her infinite diligence in scientific sleuthing.

  2. PS …Sometime yesterday the spot in the Kitsap Sun Header where ‘Blogs’ used to be disappeared. The space is empty. What happened? How can I get it back?

    I can get to individual Blogs in a time consuming process…
    tia for your help to get ‘Blogs’ back in the Header…
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. Christoper … Your blog is as close to science as we get here and the reason I posted the following… for you and the science folks who monitor your blog… I hope …

    “…Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Announcement
    September 3, 2008

    Now Accepting Proposals for Grand Challenges Explorations Round 2
    SEATTLE — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that it is now accepting grant proposals for Round 2 of Grand Challenges Explorations, a five-year US$100 million initiative to encourage bold and unconventional research on new global health solutions. Proposals for six topics will be accepted online at through November 2, 2008….”

    Sharon O’Hara

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