Debate over the chemical BPA comes to Washington state

While experts continue to argue about the quality of research regarding bisphenol-A, some politicians in Washington state are ready to leap into action.

Bill have been submitted to both houses of the Legislature, and a hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, as reported by Phuong Le of The Associated Press.

The debate focuses on the toxicity of this chemical and whether enough of it leaches out of plastic baby bottles and other containers to be harmful. Heating, for example, is known to increase the amount that moves out of the plastic and into the liquid.

With more than 100 studies out for review, BPA was one of the most studied chemicals last year, according to “Living the Science,” which published a list. After all that, the debate is more intense than ever.

It will be interesting to see how deeply the Legislature digs into this issue, given other concerns on the agenda. At least 13 states and Congress are considering action to ban BPA for various uses, but so far nobody has done so.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded that the chemical is safe, but many scientists have questioned the FDA’s conclusions.

“The issue of children’s health always takes precedent,” Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, said in Le’s story. “I’m not confident with the FDA’s assessment and I always think it’s better to be safe.”

The story also included the counter-argument by Steve Hentges, executive director of the American Chemistry Council’s BPA panel: “It’s one of the best tested chemicals,” he said. “It’s been evaluated by many government agencies in the world.”

If any of you readers has delved into this issue deeply enough to offer an opinion, feel free to comment here. It seems to be a difficult case of balancing the evidence and trying to measure the risks accurately.

Here are a few entries I’ve written about the subject: Oct. 20, 2008; Aug. 29, 2008; and April 11, 2008.

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