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BABY BOTTLE CHEMICAL BPA
IS OFFICIALLY DEEMED
UNSAFE BY THE FDA

After more than a year of continuous controversy, the FDA has released a statement naming the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) as a safety risk, allocating $30 million for independent research for a first-time, non-industry-funded study in an effort to learn more about the health risks associated with BPA. Bisphenol A is especially prevalent in baby bottles, and while consumer pressure and declining sales of BPA plastics have spurred the six largest, plastic baby bottle manufacturers to voluntarily remove BPA from baby bottles sold in the U.S., the chemical is still widely prevalent in consumer food and beverage containers sold around the world.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is one of the world's highest production-volume chemicals, and has been used for 40 years in plastic items such as baby bottles, food and beverage containers, and dental sealants. Independent studies have shown adverse health effects of BPA occur on the brain and reproductive system, as well as create metabolic diseases in laboratory animals.

In the human body, BPA mimics the estrogen hormone, and studies have tied the BPA compound to reproductive abnormalities and the increased risk of both cancer and diabetes. Infants and children are thought to be particularly vulnerable to the BPA compound because their reproductive organs and ability to metabolize chemicals are not fully formed. In a statement in 2008, the FDA said BPA was safe in materials that come into contact with food, to which critics accused the agency of using outdated studies that had been sponsored by the chemical industry, so the new cautionary statement by the FDA is a huge step in the right direction of consumer safety over corporate pressure.

There was considerable media coverage of the BPA baby bottle controversy last year. Scientist and expert Frederick vom Saal explains the situation like this: "The Japanese industry voluntarily removed BPA from can linings 10 years ago and thus, were able to reduce exposure to BPA by 50 percent. Last year, Congress asked companies in the United States to take similar actions; however, companies have made no move toward compliance. In spite of this and tarried by pressure from chemical corporation lobbyists, the FDA still has no official plan to ban BPA from consumer goods.

The new FDA position is consistent with that of the National Toxicology Program made two years ago. To avoid this health risk all together, choose BPA-free plastics, and avoid putting all plastics into the microwave and dishwasher, where they can release dangerous chemicals when heated, or degrade in the heat and excessive moisture.

Safe plastics that use polyethylene (#1, #2, and #4) and polypropylene (#5) require the use of less toxic additives. They also are non-chlorinated. Avoid choosing products that use polyvinyl chloride (#3), polystyrene (#6), and polycarbonate (#7) which typically contains bisphenol A (BPA) and is found in baby bottles and/or sippy cups.

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