Issue Date: April 21, 2008
Bisphenol A Called Mostly Safe
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) released its draft report on the health effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on April 14. The report concludes that there is "some concern" that BPA may cause neural and behavioral changes in infants and children at current exposure levels and that there is "negligible concern" that current exposures cause any negative effects in pregnant women and their unborn children or in other adults.
These conclusions on BPA safety are the same as those announced in August 2007 in a controversial draft report by the NTP Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (C&EN, Sept. 3, 2007, page 31), located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Last year, concerns raised by two government-convened groups of experts over the objectivity of the contractor facilitating the CERHR review had forced the panel to reexamine the literature. The results of that study formed the basis for the new NTP draft.
BPA is a high-volume chemical used to make polycarbonate and epoxy resins. Most human exposure stems from its use as a liner in food containers and drinking from polycarbonate bottles, including baby bottles.
The possibility that BPA can harm infants and children has led some scientists and consumer groups to call for a ban on its use, especially where it comes into contact with food. But the chemical industry has its own studies indicating no danger from low BPA exposures.
NTP's precautionary tone was taken as supporting both sides. "The findings in NTP's draft report provide reassurance that consumers can continue to use products made from bisphenol A," said Steven G. Hentges of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. ACC, the chemical industry's most visible lobbying group, said the report affirms that there are no serious or high-level concerns for adverse effects of BPA on human reproduction or development.
But Congress is using the same report to prod FDA into reconsidering the safety of BPA. Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, is investigating the use of BPA in the lining of infant formula cans. "The NTP findings fly in the face of FDA's determination that BPA is safe," Dingell said. "I hope FDA will reconsider its position on BPA for the safety of our infants and children."
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