FDA’s BPA announcement is too little, too late.
Photo: Flickr, shooting brooklyn
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At long last, FDA has made an announcement today on the safety of BPA in our food supply.
Today FDA announced that they now share the same concern as the National Toxicology Program for the impact of BPA on human development and will continue to work with that agency to better clarify these effects by conducting more research. They state this research will take place over the next 18-24 months. In the interim they support the removal of BPA from baby bottles and cups and support those companies that have already removed BPA from their formula packaging. However, they did not go so far as to tell the public that they should be avoiding BPA or that they should switch to BPA-free baby bottles or infant formula.
While this announcement is an improvement from their previous conclusion that FDA was safe in our food supply – it is too little, too late. They have finally caught up to another federal agency’s scientific report that was finalized over a year ago. Since then, even more scientific evidence has been published reinforcing that exposure to BPA during vulnerable periods of development is harmful. FDA should have advised parents to stop using BPA baby bottles and switch to BPA free formula NOW while they determine their regulatory authority to implement a formal ban.
More research is always a good idea but there comes a time when we know enough to act and that time has come for BPA.
Also, they have not acknowledged the impacts of BPA on adults. Biomonitoring data shows that babies are being born with BPA already in their blood, which means that they are being exposed through their mothers before they are born. FDA's announcement will not do anything to prevent pre-birth exposures.
Furthermore, BPA exposure in adults has been associated with miscarriage, erectile dysfunction, heart disease and diabetes.
Today’s announcement is also in conflict with statements made last month by the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Dr. Linda Birnbaum, told a reporter that consumers “absolutely” should be concerned about BPA exposures and that there is enough uncertainty about its safety to caution people to avoid it in food contact items. At a Senate hearing several months ago on the need for chemical policy reform, she compared BPA to other notoriously toxic chemicals like PCBs, lead and mercury.
FDA’s announcement today has only created more confusion and has not given parents the clear advice they seek on how to reduce BPA exposure in their families.
NRDC recommends that everyone, especially pregnant women and young children, reduce their exposure to BPA as much as possible.
- Limit your consumption of canned food by eating fresh or frozen produce and buying processed food in "brick" cartons, pouches or glass.
- Limit your consumption of canned soda and beer - where possible choose glass as an alternative.
- If you have a newborn, avoid baby bottles or sippy cups made of polycarbonate (hard, clear, shatterproof) plastic. They are marked with the recycling symbol #7, and sometimes labeled "PC." (Not all #7 plastics are polycarbonates-the only way to know for sure is to call the manufacturer.)
- Use a BPA-free reusable water bottle, such as an unlined stainless steel bottle.
- Don't allow your children to have dental sealants made from BPA (or BADGE) applied to their teeth, and don't have these sealants applied to your teeth while you are pregnant. Ask your dentist to provide BPA-free treatments.
* * * This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard.
Sarah Janssen is a staff scientist at The Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. She holds a master’s degree and PhD in reproductive biology from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in public health. NRDC is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the environment, people and animals. NRDC was founded in 1970 and is comprised of more than 300 lawyers, scientists and policy experts, with more than one million members and e-activists.