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Children's Health

Cap's Off of Plastic Chemical Concerns

Government Scientists Voice Concern About Bisphenol A, but Stop Short of Making Recommendations
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What the Report Found continued...

"This is a very controversial area with obvious differences in the way different groups have interpreted the data," Shelby says. "We have tried to do it in as scientifically sound and thorough means as we could."

"Even in the areas where we've expressed some concern, the literature is not consistent on the endpoints reported," Shelby continues. "Some people find these effects; others may not, and their relevance to effects on human health -- there's still some uncertainty about that. That's why we didn't have a lower or higher level of concern in our conclusions."

The draft brief is posted on the NTP's web site. The NTP is taking comments on the brief, which will be reviewed by other scientists in June.

Shelby expects to issue the final version of the NTP's brief on bisphenol A in late summer. But that report won't include any rules on BPA's use. "We are not a regulatory agency," Shelby says.

Industry Responds

In a statement emailed to WebMD, the American Chemistry Council says the NTP's draft brief "confirms that human exposure to bisphenol A is extremely low and noted no direct evidence in humans that exposure to bisphenol A adversely affects reproduction or development."

Limited evidence for effects in lab animals "primarily highlights opportunities for additional research to better understand whether these findings are of any significance to human health," states the council.

"The findings in NTP's draft report provide reassurance that consumers can continue to use products made from bisphenol A," says Steven Hentges, PhD, of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. "Importantly, this conclusion has been affirmed by scientific and government bodies worldwide."

Tips for Limiting Exposure to BPA

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which includes the NTP, has posted the following tips on its web site for people who want to limit their exposure to bisphenol A:

  • Don't microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from overuse at high temperatures.
  • Polycarbonate containers that contain BPA usually have a #7 on the bottom.
  • Reduce your use of canned foods.
  • When possible, opt for glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot foods or liquids.
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA-free.
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