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BPA.... Ever heard of it? READ THIS!

Posted by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 12:47 PM
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The agency said it would work to reduce human exposure to the chemical, which is found in the urine of 93% of Americans tested.

Friday's action follows three years of investigative reports by the Journal Sentinel into the government's failure to limit the chemical's exposure, despite hundreds of studies that found BPA to cause harm.

Environmental and health groups praised the announcement, though some said it did not go far enough.

The Environmental Working Group, which has been working to ban BPA from baby bottles and the lining of infant formula cans, said Friday's announcement was a "Waterloo" for the chemical.

Others were more measured.

"This is a dramatic and overdue about-face for the FDA," said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families. "They have finally admitted concern. They are moving cautiously, which is appropriate because you don't want to substitute a new chemical that is equally dangerous. But, it is essential that they not move too slowly. There is growing and disturbing research evidence that the health of children and adults is at stake."

Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) who introduced a bill to ban BPA from all food contact items, praised the FDA's move.

"It is clear that BPA poses serious health risks and this finding is a major step toward eliminating exposure to this toxic substance," he said.

The FDA previously declared that BPA was safe, based on two studies, both of which were paid for by the chemical industry. It now says it agrees with the National Toxicology Program that the chemical poses some concern for its effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. That decision was released in 2008 and considered more than 700 studies.

Lynn Goldman, who was appointed by the Obama Administration to serve as adviser to the FDA on the chemical said Friday's announcement was an acknowledgment that the agency needs to focus more on the science of the chemical and not much on the politics.

In October, the Obama administration committed $30 million to studying BPA's effects.

FDA is not recommending that families change the use of infant formula or foods.

But the agency urged consumers to follow the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services, saying the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk from BPA exposure.

"At this interim stage, FDA supports reasonable steps to reduce exposure of infants to BPA in the food supply," the agency said.

"In addition, the FDA will work with industry to support and evaluate manufacturing practices and alternative substances that could reduce exposure to other populations."

In a press conference Friday, Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, added further confusion to the announcement by saying that the FDA supported the use of BPA in baby bottles. Industry executives were quick to quote him.

But Sharfstein later called the Journal Sentinel to clarify.

"We do not support BPA in baby bottles," he said. "We support companies that remove BPA from baby bottles. I apologize for the confusion."

The agency announced plans to work with industry to take the chemical out of infant formula cans and baby bottles.

The agency is also working to require BPA manufacturers to report how much of the chemical they are producing and where it is being used so that it can more easily regulate the chemical.

The announced steps to reduce BPA in the food supply and posted them on their Web site. They include:

--Supporting the industry's actions to stop producing BPA-containing baby bottles and infant feeding cups for the U.S. market;

--Facilitating the development of alternatives to BPA for the linings of infant formula cans; and

--Supporting efforts to replace BPA or minimize BPA levels in other food can linings.

More than 6 billion pounds of the chemical are manufactured each year, accounting for nearly $7 billion in sales. The chemical is used to line nearly all food and beverage cans. It is used to make hard clear plastic for baby bottles, tableware, eyeglasses, dental sealants, DVDs and hundreds of other household objects.

The chemical, which leaches into food and drink when it is heated, has been linked to prostate and breast cancer, reproductive failure, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and behavioral problems.

BPA manufacturers, however, have maintained it is safe.

The Journal Sentinel found that lobbyists for the chemical industry wrote entire sections of that decision. E-mails obtained by the newspaper found that the FDA relied on chemical industry lobbyists to examine the chemical's risks, track legislation to ban it and even monitor press coverage.

Linda Birnbaum, who now heads the National Toxicology Program, told the Journal Sentinel in December that people should avoid ingesting the chemical -- especially pregnant women, infants and children.

"There are plenty of reasonable alternatives," she said.

You can find the Journal Sentinel's past stories on this issue here.

Read the full series To read the full Journal Sentinel "Chemical Fallout" series, which began in 2007, go to

by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 12:47 PM
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