By Dr. Mercola
More than three years ago, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), calling for the agency to prohibit the use of bisphenol-A (BPA), a known toxin, in products manufactured in the United States.
The FDA failed to respond, so NRDC sued last December, forcing the agency to give an answer.
Unfortunately, their response was like so many others they have given in the past – in favor of industry at the expense of public health.
The FDA announced that it would be denying NRDC’s petition to regulate the use of BPA in the U.S., noting that it would “make any necessary changes to BPA’s status based on the science.”
Well the science is pretty clear; what’s unclear is why the FDA is once again failing to act to protect your health.
What Does the Science Say About BPA?
BPA is an endocrine disrupter, which means it mimics and/or interferes with your body's hormones and "disrupts" your endocrine system.
The glands of your endocrine system and the hormones they release are instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes.
Some of the greatest concern regarding BPA surrounds early-life, in utero exposure to BPA, which can lead to chromosomal errors in your developing fetus, causing spontaneous miscarriages and genetic damage.
But evidence is also very strong indicating these chemicals are influencing adults and children, too, and leading to decreased sperm quality, early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles and ovarian dysfunction, cancer and heart disease, among numerous other health problems.
For instance, research has found that "higher BPA exposure is associated with general and central obesity in the general adult population of the United States,"i while another study found that BPA is associated not only with generalized and abdominal obesity, but also with insulin resistance, which is an underlying factor in many chronic diseases.ii
In an NHANES study, published in 2010, U.S. adults with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were more than twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as those with the lowest levels.iii
Those researchers noted:
"Higher BPA exposure, reflected in higher urinary concentrations of BPA, is consistently associated with reported heart disease in the general adult population of the USA."
Dr. Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, stated:iv
“BPA is a toxic chemical that has no place in our food supply. We believe FDA made the wrong call. The agency has failed to protect our health and safety -- in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures, especially in fetuses, babies and young children. The FDA is out-of-step with scientific and medical research. This illustrates the need for a major overhaul of how the government protects us against dangerous chemicals.”
Canada Declared BPA Toxic in 2010
In September 2010, Canada declared BPA a toxic substance, but to date no other country has followed suit, although BPA has been banned in baby bottles in Canada, Europe and the United States. Many U.S. companies have voluntarily removed the chemical from their products, however, in response to consumer demand.
It's important to make an effort to support the companies that have already removed BPA from their products, or those that offer products that never contained it (such as baby toys made from natural fabrics instead of plastic). If enough people refuse to buy BPA-containing goods, companies will have no choice but to get this toxin out of their products.
For information on companies that are making efforts to explore BPA-free packaging or have already begun phasing BPA out of their products altogether, see the report Seeking Safer Packaging: Ranking Packaged Food Companies on BPA by the environmentally oriented investment firm Green Century and As You Sow, a non-profit working toward increasing corporate social responsibility. To date, companies including Hain Celestial, ConAgra, and H.J. Heinz have started using BPA-free can linings for certain products and has a timeline established to remove BPA from all of its packaging products.
Recently even Campbell Soup has jumped on the BPA-free bandwagon and declared their plans to stop using the chemical (an important move since studies show eating canned foods, which are in cans lined with BPA, increased study participants’ urinary concentrations of BPA by more than 1,000%).
Unfortunately, these removals will continue to be voluntary for now, as the FDA has only said that it will continue to examine the research on BPA’s health effects (while continuing to allow it in your food supply).
Nearly 5 Million Tons of BPA Will be Made in 2012 -- Industry Set to Earn $8 Billion
Thanks to the FDA’s refusal to ban BPA from food packaging in the United States, the chemical will continue to experience steady growth in 2012, with an estimated 4.7 million tons set for production this year. This, in turn, will earn BPA manufacturers a handsome profit of $8 billion.v
Often you need only to follow the money trail to trace the FDA’s true motivations behind its regulatory decisions. In the first months of 2012 alone, the FDA has already ignored its own scientists (again) on the dangers of mercury fillings, and declared that it would not act to restrict agricultural antibiotic use. All this while attacking raw milk producers and even walnut manufacturers for making truthful health claims …
The FDA is packed by pro-industry, pro-corporation advocates who often have massive conflicts of interest when it comes to protecting the health of the public.
In fact, the revolving door between private industry and government oversight agencies like the FDA is so well established these days, it has become business as usual to read about scandal, conflicts of interest and blatant pro-industry bias, even when it flies in the face of science or the law. The fact is, if you want to stay safe, you can’t depend on the FDA; you’ve got to look out for yourself.
Avoid These Common Sources of Toxic BPA
As one of the world's highest production volume chemicals, BPA is incredibly common in food and drinks packaging, as well as in other places you probably wouldn't expect, like receipts. So it’s important to boycott the common sources of BPA that are still in production, such as:
- Canned foods and soda cans
- All BPA-containing plastics
- Certain tooth sealants
- Certain BPA-free plastics (which can contain similar endocrine-disrupting chemicals)
- Receipts and currency (while you can't "boycott" these, seek to limit or avoid carrying receipts in your wallet or purse, as it appears the chemical is transferring onto other surfaces it touches. It would also be wise to wash your hands after handling receipts and currency, and avoid handling them particularly if you've just put lotion or have any other greasy substance on your hands, as this may increase your exposure)
In addition, one way to help protect yourself from the adverse effects of inevitable BPA exposure is by eating traditionally fermented foods, such as raw grass-fed organic kefir, organic fermented veggies, like sauerkraut or Kimchi, or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. These foods contain "friendly bacteria," some of which have the ability to break down BPA, as well as reduce your intestinal absorption of it.vi