Tag Archives: BPA

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.

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.”