"There are risks to everyone, but in babies they're permanent. Exposure of human or animal babies to Bisphenol-A is going to have a permanent, harmful effect. Once that effect occurs you're not going to be be normal, and there's nothing anyone can do about it."
"One of the things that has been seen is hyperactivity and learning disorders in animals and associated with neurochemical change in dopamine - a drop in dopamine levels."
"We see anatomical, neurochemical & behavioral changes that are particularly relevant to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, and autism is so complex that we can't say that there is a direct relationship to autism, but there are behavior changes that are related to the kinds of things you see in autism."
-Dr. Fred Vom Saal, Reproductive Scientist
University of Missouri-Columbia
*For more complete info on BPA see my first post, Cleaning Up My Kitchen - Clearing Out the Bisphenol-A
If parenthood or grandparenthood is in your future please take note of this post and pass it on.
I have never been a fanatic about chemicals or fabrics or lotions or food or utensils. But I read a lot, and I pay attention when three expert advisory panels of scientists say the FDA needs to do something about Bisphenol-A (BPA) to protect fetuses, infants and young children. There are over 175 NIH and non-industry funded studies saying this stuff is risky. The only studies that say it's safe are those funded by the American Chemical Council or the plastics industry.
"There's over 6 billion pounds of this made and used a year. It's one of the biggest chemicals in production in the world." Dr. Fred vom Saal
I spent Thursday listening to both sides of the argument. I heard Steven Hentges of the American Chemistry Council, John Bucher of NIH, Fred vom Saal of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Tony Clement, Health Minister of Canada, Warren Foster of McMaster University in Canada, Randy Jirtle of Duke University, and John McLachlan of Tulane University.
Here's what I came away with:
- It may take years to get actual proof in human beings of the harmful effects of BPA & phthalates
- Scientists know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are harmful behavioral (like aggression & hyperactivity), neurological ( like learning disabilities), reproductive and endocrine effects of this drug on animals, and in doses far less than humans are exposed to.
- Exposure at the time of pregnancy, especially at fertilization (not always a planned moment), can cause the most dire effects. Scientists know, especially from their experience with DES (Diethylstilbestrol) that BPA can cause permanent DNA changes to the fetus that in effect can set up time bombs later in life to cause cancer, diabetes, obesity and other adverse effects. The harmful effects first seen in animals exposed to DES were seen many years later in humans.
- The only down side to staying away from BPA if you plan to get pregnant is the inconvenience. It's a no-brainer decision!
Until the FDA starts labeling plastics and cans so we know which ones have BPA why not do what Dr. Fred vom Saal and every other scientist who studies BPA has done.
- Stay away from cans. Eden Organic Beans are the only ones documented to not have BPA. The Environmental Working Group says cans, more than plastic, is the predominant way we are getting exposed to BPA. They're lined with an epoxy that contains BPA that can leach out when heated during processing. In the presence of acids like tomatoes, and alcohol even more is leached out. Think canned beer. Organic Grace is maintaining a very helpful list of which manufacturers have BPA in their cans. It's continually updated, so keep checking back. That means no soft drinks, no canned beer, no cans of V-8, no canned soups, no canned tomatoes, you name it! By the way, Japan eliminated 95% of the BPA from their cans 10 years ago. But stay away from cans from China-it's in theirs.
- Throw out your hard clear polycarbonate plastics. All the BPA expert scientists have switched to stainless steel water bottles like Klean Kanteen even though #1, #2, #4 and #5 do not contain BPA.
- Don't heat plastic in the microwave.
- Don't wash plastic in the dishwasher.
- Don't use harsh detergents on plastic.
- Don't put hot food or liquids into plastic.
- Switch to microwave-safe glass for storing & reheating foods. I've been searching all over without luck for those old-fashioned pyrex refrigerator containers. Thanks to my resourceful daughter-in-law I found out that they're at Crate and Barrel. Here's the link: glass set and individual containers. There is only one type with a glass lid, but the plastic lids are of the BPA-free #5 plastic.
- Seriously consider filtering your water with a carbon filter or reverse osmosis system. BPA and other estrogenic substances have been found in groundwater from the runoff of discarded plastics, livestock hormones and even oral contraceptives. Remember the recent reports of pharmaceuticals found in our water systems? Maybe I'm over-reacting, but the BPA scientists are filtering their water.
- Stainmaster carpet, Teflon coatings, the fire retardant chemicals on upholstery & in pajamas, and polyurethane foam furniture all have phthalates or PBDE, unless they specifically say otherwise. Educate yourself! This brief article from the National Geographic's Green Guide will set you straight about childhood exposure: Click Here! I highly recommend bookmarking or saving to del.icio.us The National Geographic's Green Guide. Consult it regularly for safe consumer products.
The reason for so much concern with babies is because of the double doses of BPA from canned formula, poured into a polycarbonate plastic baby bottle that gets heated in the microwave and washed in the dishwasher!
And, if I haven't completely put you to sleep yet.... Dr. Theo Colburn, Professor of Zoology at the University of Gainesville, and named Hero of the Environment by Time Magazine, theorizes that exposure to BPA, along with the phthalates in fire-retardant fabrics and stain-resistant carpets may be the trigger for autism. To read more about the autism link, click here. For her nine key points about the risks of chemical exposure to babies & children, click here.
Link to NPR/Diane Rehm's discussion on BPA: Click here.
Link to interesting article about Dr. Fred vom Saal: Click here.