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FDA Won't Ban BPA -- Yet

FDA Denies Petition to Ban BPA, Questions Studies Showing Harm

Is BPA a Threat? continued...

The NRDC correctly notes that BPA acts in the body as an estrogen-like hormone, and that even low-level estrogen activity can disrupt normal body functions in adults and normal development in fetuses and in young children.

Moreover, there's the issue of environmental exposure. BPA is everywhere. While individual exposures may be tiny, and while the body may quickly clear BPA from the blood, we're constantly being re-exposed.

But is this enough to make a difference in people's health? The NRDC says the FDA should err on the side of safety and ban BPA. The FDA isn't convinced.

"While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans and the public health impact of BPA," the FDA says in its letter to the NRDC.

The FDA says it's working on a new safety review of BPA this year. And it notes that another federal agency, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is funding $30 million worth of new BPA research.

So far, it looks like this research is persuading the FDA that current levels of BPA exposure are safe. The FDA says its research shows that:

  • Exposure to BPA in human infants is from 84% to 92% less than previously estimated.
  • Pregnant animals fed huge amounts of BPA passed very little of the chemical to their unborn babies.
  • People of all ages process and rid their bodies of BPA faster than the rodents used as test animals do.

The NRDC's Janssen says the FDA is misreading the scientific research.

"The FDA is out-of-step with scientific and medical research," she says. "This illustrates the need for a major overhaul of how the government protects us against dangerous chemicals."

And Janssen notes that the NRDC is not alone in worrying about BPA.

"Numerous scientific bodies of scientists and physicians, including the Endocrine Society, the President’s Cancer Panel appointed by President George W. Bush, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association have all publicly declared that BPA is a potential health threat," Janssen recently blogged.

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