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May create ‘false sense of protection’
WSU researcher says FDA ban on bisphenol A “not enough”
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
By Darin Watkins, WSU News
PULLMAN, WA – The Food and Drug Administration this week announced that baby bottles and children’s drinking cups can no longer contain bisphenol A (BPA), an estrogen-mimicking chemical used in some plastic bottles and food packaging. The move mirrors actions taken by several states, including Washington, to ban the chemical from children’s food containers and drinking cups.
But Patricia Hunt, a geneticist in Washington State University’s School of Molecular Biosciences, said today the ban doesn’t really accomplish much, since most of the industry has already voluntarily moved away from BPA. Instead, she fears the ban may give consumers a false sense of protection because it doesn’t apply to a number of similar chemicals, including a related chemical called BPA-F, that may be just as harmful.
"BPA free doesn’t necessarily mean safe, and that’s kinda scary,” said Hunt. "When we go for that BPA free bottle we’re not always going to get something that’s completely free of this chemical because the manufacturers can tweak this molecule a little bit, so it’s a similar molecule but it can have just as bad of affect in the body.”
Hunt helped raise concerns about the plasticizer bisphenol A when her research uncovered genetic abnormalities in mice that had been accidentally exposed to the chemical. In 1998, Hunt discovered an accidental release of the chemical into the water bottles of mice caused abnormalities in their eggs.
Hunt believes there is good evidence that even low dose exposure to BPA can cause significant changes in the developing fetus. Adding there is good evidence that the changes can lead to behavioral changes, decreased fertility and an increase in diseases like breast and prostate cancer. Hunt also believes BPA is the first of a series of similar chemicals needing stricter controls.
"BPA is like the poster child for this class of chemicals that are endocrine disruptors that can interfere with our body’s hormones,” said Hunt. "It is particularly harmful to the unborn and the newborn.”
Hunt works in Washington State’s School of Molecular Biosciences and is working on a series of publications relative to BPA that are expected to be released in the next few months.