The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010, which was recently introduced and establishes a programme to review and protect children from risks of toxic exposures, including Bisphenol-A (BPA), a frequent contaminant in consumer goods, is receiving support from the public, according to Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition.
Dr. Epstein notes that the Washington Post reported on March 30 of this year that the Environmental Protection Agency has identified BPA as “a substance of concern.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier voiced “concerns about the chemical’s hormonal effect on human health,” according to The Post. The American Chemistry Council asserts, however, “that BPA is not an environmental danger at current low levels.”
In addition to adult personal care and cosmetic items, food container linings, microwave oven plates, dental sealants, and medical devices, BPA is frequently utilised in polycarbonate bottles, including those for infant products.
According to Dr. Epstein, additional recently identified significant sources of BPA include credit card and cash register receipts, which are often handled and coated with microscopic BPA powder.
The foetus and babies are extremely susceptible to the hazardous hormonal effects of this substance, which are formally referred to as “endocrine disrupting,” according to a 2007 assessment of approximately 700 studies on BPA that was published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology.
According to a study cited by Dr. Epstein in the same publication, newborn mice exposed to BPA levels equal to those experienced by the average person experienced uterine damage. He issues a warning: “This discovery may possibly link BPA as a cause of problems of the female reproductive tract, after their earlier exposure as foetuses or infants.”
According to earlier research published in the journal Endocrinology and elsewhere, BPA feminises the male mice’s brain while masculinizing the female mice’s brain. The decrease in the typical distance between their anus and genitals is proof that this hormone disruptor has toxic consequences on pregnant women’s unborn baby boys. Sperm production is also correlated with this reduction in anogenital distance.
Early in 2008, Health Canada deemed BPA to be a “toxic substance” based on the information presented.
In addition to these harmful consequences, pregnant rodents exposed to BPA at concentrations 2,000 times lower than the Environmental Protection Agency’s “safe dose” had offspring with aberrant sexual characteristics. These anomalies, according to Dr. Epstein, include an increase in “terminal end buds” in breast tissue, which are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer later on. The human relevance of these discoveries, according to an American Plastics Council representative, is purely “hypothetical.”
Dr. Epstein cautions that BPA has been linked to prostate cancer and has been detected in human blood, placental tissue, and foetal tissue. According to him, “the authors of this study also connected endocrine-dependent human malignancies, like breast cancer, to the minimum levels of BPA exposure experienced by pregnant women.”
Several dozen scientists issued a consensus statement on August 2, 2007 warning that BPA, even at very low exposure levels, is likely to be the cause of many human reproductive diseases.
Dr. Gail Prins addressed the strong scientific data about BPA’s hazardous hormonal effects, along with those of other endocrine disruptive chemicals (EDCs), in her September 2008 article Endocrine-Related Cancer. She came to the conclusion that kids are extremely vulnerable to their hazardous consequences, especially the potential for prostate cancer in the future.
Science Daily published a piece on BPA titled “A Plastic World” in its upcoming special section on environmental research in October 2008. According to two other studies, BPA exposure during pregnancy interfered with rats’ and mice’s ability to develop their brains and behave normally. According to other publications, BPA is seriously poisoning the oceans and destroying aquatic life.
In order to avoid exposure to chemicals “that can undermine the development of children before they are born and cause lifelong impairment of their health and function,” the Endocrine Disruption Act of June 2009 gave the National Institute of Environmental Health Science the authority “to coordinate” research on hormone disruption.
Public health, consumer, and children’s rights advocacy groups backed this measure, which was enhanced by California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill banning BPA from food and beverage containers. This law has also received support from the President’s Cancer Panel on “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” 2008-2009 Annual Report, which is highly relevant. According to this article, “to an alarming extent, kids are born pre-polluted.”
Safe substitutes exist for BPA. The recent advancement of “green chemistry” has promoted the phase-out of product packaging that depends on petrochemical plastic containers, particularly those that contain BPA, as stressed in Dr. Sam Epstein’s 2009 book Toxic Beauty. Presently, recycled paper and other biodegradable alternatives are used in place of these containers. Such “green” packaging lowers energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and the amount of non-degradable or inadequately degradable garbage currently dumped in landfills.
The FDA released a “Update on BPA” in January of this year, focusing in particular on its usage in food packaging, plastic baby bottles, feeding cups, and metal containers to prevent childhood exposure. FDA hasn’t implemented any regulations to this effect, though, as of yet. Meanwhile, according to Dr. Epstein, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel of the industry does not even mention BPA in its yearly “safety assessments.”
A draught of the 2010 Toxic Chemicals Safety Act was released by Congressmen Bobby Rush and Henry Waxman on April 15. The development of a programme to examine and safeguard children from the risks of hazardous exposures, particularly BPA, is one of this Act’s important elements.
According to Dr. Epstein, “The approval of this law is urgently required to prohibit BPA from being used in food packaging and other consumer products, particularly to avoid any future exposure to children.”
Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. is an author of more than 270 scientific articles and 20 books on the causes and prevention of cancer, including the ground-breaking The Politics of Cancer (1979) and Toxic Beauty. He is also chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. Epstein was also awarded the Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal in 2005 for his contributions to the world’s fight against cancer (2009, BenBella Books).
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