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Bisphenol A: Some Concerns Remain

National Toxicology Program Notes Concerns in Final Bisphenol A Safety Report
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NTP's Lingering Questions

Much of the research on bisphenol A's safety has been done on animals, and NTP officials say it's not clear how that translates to people.

"There remains considerable uncertainty whether the changes seen in the animal studies are directly applicable to humans, and whether they would result in clear adverse health effects," NTP Associate Director John Bucher, PhD, says in a news release. "But we have concluded that the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed."

So what does the NTP recommend that consumers do?

"Unfortunately, it is very difficult to offer advice on how the public should respond to this information," Michael Shelby, PhD, director of the NTP's Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), says in a news release.

"More research is clearly needed to understand exactly how these findings relate to human health and development, but at this point we can't dismiss the possibility that the effects we're seeing in animals may occur in humans. If parents are concerned, they can make the personal choice to reduce exposures of their infants and children to BPA," Shelby says.

Plastics Industry, Critics Respond

All along, the American Chemistry Council, a trade group for the plastics industry, has maintained that bisphenol A is safe at typical exposure levels, and that lab tests on animals aren't a good gauge of risk to humans.

That's in line with the FDA's draft report and a separate report by European health officials concluded in July. And in August, California lawmakers rejected a bill that would have limited bisphenol A to trace amounts in products geared to kids aged 3 and younger.

"The safety of our products is our highest priority," Steven G. Hentges, PhD, of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Group, says in a news release. "An earlier draft of the NTP report has already been used by the [FDA] to support their safety assessment, which confirms that food-contact products made from polycarbonate plastic, including products for infants and children, can continue to be used safely."

Meanwhile, the EWG focuses on the concern mentioned in the NTP's report, calling it a "measured" stance. In a statement emailed to WebMD, EWG Executive Director Richard Wiles is critical of the plastics industry and the FDA, and says "the new NTP assessment tells us that we are right to be concerned about BPA."

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