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Bisphenol A Safe, Says FDA

FDA Issues Draft Report on Bisphenol A Noting "Adequate Margin of Safety" in Typical Exposure From Food

View No.1: No Need to Worry continued...

The American Chemistry Council, a plastics industry trade group, praises the FDA's conclusion. In a news release, the council says the FDA's draft report "strongly reaffirms" the safety of bisphenol A and calls the draft report "the most up-to-date analysis on the safety of bisphenol A in the world."

Steven Hentges, PhD, of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, told WebMD last week that consumers and companies that ditched bisphenol A made those decisions "very quickly, without having complete and final information."

Hentges says the studies that touched off concern "really aren't very robust." He also sees a "language" issue dating back to the NTP's draft report.

"The NTP language was 'some concern' and people tended to focus on the word 'concern' without realizing or really thinking through that there's a qualifier up front: 'some,'" says Hentges.

View No. 2: Cause for Concern

People with concerns about bisphenol A -- including some scientists studying bisphenol A -- see no proof that bisphenol A is harmless in humans.

Vogel, who will start a fellowship at the nonprofit Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia this fall, favors banning bisphenol A, but she doesn't think that a ban is likely.

Earlier this week, Vogel told WebMD she expected the FDA would, "at a minimum, would decide to reduce the reference dose," which is the acceptable amount of bisphenol A exposure in everyday life. That didn't happen; the FDA's draft report doesn't mention changing the reference dose.

Vogel wasn't immediately available to comment on the FDA's draft report. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group -- which Vogel doesn't work for -- issued a news release criticizing the FDA's draft report. "We have long since lost faith in FDA's ability to be an impartial authority on FDA's safety. Time and again, FDA has sided with special interests instead of the public interest on this chemical," Renee Sharp, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, says in the news release.

Almost 93% of Americans have detectable levels of bisphenol A in their urine, Vogel observes, citing CDC data on urine samples provided by some 2,500 Americans aged 6 and older for a national health survey in 2003-2004.

Those CDC figures don't connect bisphenol A to health effects. But the data, along with bisphenol A research on animals, "doesn't make me feel great," Vogel says. She'd like to see stricter safety standards and more research in people, as long as research doesn't become a stalling tactic. "If it's a way to delay any decision on BPA, it's really frustrating," says Vogel.

Hentges counters that "with bisphenol A, we already know so much about it ... it's not likely that anyone's going to do an experiment tomorrow that will render everything that we know today wrong."

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