The Bisphenol A Debate Continues: NTP Finds BPA May Harm Babies and Kids

The US Department of Health & Human Services' National Toxicology Program ("NTP") issued its final report on the health risks associated with Bisphenol A (or BPA) on September 3, 2008.  The NTP found "some concern" (a 3 on the NTP's 5 point scale) for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposure levels.  The NTP also found minimal and negligible concern for other health endpoints. You can read more at TheSmartMama or the complete final report from the NTP (warning - big PDF file).

So, what's the deal with BPA?  If you haven't been following the debate at all, BPA is a key component of polycarbonate plastic - widely used for a variety of consumer products, from helmets to food storage containers, including baby bottles and those 5 gallon water bottles.  Unreacted BPA is present in the consumer product, and can leach out and into food stuff.  It can then be ingested.

BPA is also used to make epoxy linings for almost all canned foods and beverages.  It can also leach into foods from linings.  The Environmental Working Group ("EWG") tested several canned food items and concentrations of BPA were detected

Whether the exposure to BPA causes health effects as been subject to heated debate.  In the last 10 years or so, a number of peer reviewed studies have demonstrated that low dose exposures to BPA in laboratory animals cause health risks.  The plastics industry continues to emphasize that BPA is safe.

And, the NTP's report was issued just 2 or so weeks after the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") issued its draft report saying that BPA was safe. 

So what's a person to do?  Well, at least for me, it seems prudent to reduce or minimize BPA exposures.  So, I switched out of polycarbonate plastic bottles to stainless steel for water, and to avoid BPA in canned foods and beverages, I go for fresh, frozen, dried, or jarred in glass.  For baby bottles and sippy cups, there are lots of BPA free alternatives available. 

Yes, I realize that the science around BPA is certain.  But I would rather be safe than sorry.