On one level, the study Reuters reports is real news: extensive direct correlations of BPA levels and disease in humans. On another level, the fact the study’s results are "news" to the EPA so frustrates me I could just scream.
In the bookshelf nearest me sits a copy of Theo Colburn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers’ Our Stolen Future. Pages 130-135 describe how BPA is the prototype of a class of toxic chemicals known as endocrine disruptors.
"Endocrine disruptors" are chemicals that mimic the body’s natural hormones, and send false signals to developing and adult bodies. "Endocrine" is medical-speak for "hormone system". Ain’t medical terminology grand?
Endocrine disruptors are the toxic substances that:
- have been linked to miscarriages,
Ain’t endocrine disruptors grand?
Endocrine disruptors are old news. In 1998, I joined a group of activists who wrote and persuaded the LA Unified School District to adopt an "Integrated Pest Management Policy" that used the precautionary principle to protect LAUSD students and staff from endocrine disruptors (and other toxic substances). The LAUSD — responsiible for 750,000 students — adopted that policy in the spring of 1999.
We used Our Stolen Future as a reference. As the group’s medical consultant, I used the information Theo Colburn and her colleagues assembled to persuade the LA School Board to protect students and staff against endocrine disruptors.
In my paperback copy of Our Stolen Future, the paged are yellowed: it was printed eleven years ago. The hardbound version was printed in 1996.
Oh – and the first research showing BPA’s endocrine disruptor activity at astonishingly low concentrations…concentrations we are are all exposed to, often even before we are born? It was published in 1993.
Fifteen years before the Bushie FDA told us the endocrine disruptor BPA is "safe at current exposure levels".
Old news, right?
Watching the corporatists strangle public safety regulations is bad for my blood pressure. Sucks for the rest of us, too.
Study links common plastics chemical to heart disease
A major study links a chemical used in many plastic products including baby bottles to human problems such as heart disease and diabetes, while U.S. regulators on Tuesday said they still believe it is safe.
The chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, is widely used in plastic food and beverage containers and in the coating of food cans.
The study by British researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that among 1,455 U.S. adults, those with the highest levels of BPA were more likely to have heart disease, diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities than those with the lowest levels.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials said they would review the new findings, which were not taken into consideration when the agency issued a draft conclusion in August that BPA is safe at current exposure levels.
"There are things you can do if you choose to reduce your level of bisphenol A," [FDA official] Tarantino said. "But we have not recommended that anyone change their habits or change their use of any of these products because right now we don’t have the evidence in front of us to suggest that people need to."
BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, a clear shatter-resistant material in products ranging from baby and water bottles to plastic eating utensils to sports safety equipment and medical devices.
It also is used to make durable epoxy resins used as the coating in most food and beverage cans and in dental fillings. BPA can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body.
LEACHING INTO LIQUIDS
People can consume BPA when it leaches out of plastic into liquid such as baby formula, water or food inside a container. Some retailers and manufacturers are moving away from products with BPA. Canadian officials concluded BPA was harmful.
The 25 percent of people with the highest levels of bisphenol A in their bodies were more than twice as likely to have heart disease, including heart attacks or type 2 diabetes, compared to the 25 percent with the lowest levels.
At the FDA panel meeting, several scientists and activists said the FDA ignored animal studies finding health concerns and some called for it to be banned in food container products.
Senior Democratic U.S. Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, who heads the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said the FDA has "focused myopically on industry-funded research."
Tarantino said nothing was ignored but industry-funded studies finding no harm were important in the conclusions. The panel is expected to present its advice to the FDA next month.
What a group of community activists and the massive LAUSD accomplished in less than fifteen months, the EPA hasn’t been willing to do in the last fifteen years. Fortunately for Canadians, their nation’s regulators actually work to protect the public, and moved to ban use of the toxin in baby bottles. In April. Five months ago.
Here in the wholly owned corporatist subsidy we call the United States:
Tarantino, head of the FDA’s office of food additive safety, said there is talk of government scientists doing their own BPA safety studies, but that could take years to conduct.
Makes ya proud to be an American, doesn’t it? Knowing "we’re number one" just makes me feel all tingly and safer already. Don’t you?
(Kirk is on holiday and will not be able to join in the comments.)