A Warning by Key Researcher On Risks of BPA Plastic Bottles and Cans in Our Lives

The synthetic chemical, BPA ”” found in everything from plastic bottles to cash register receipts ”” is a potent, estrogen-mimicking compound. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, biologist Frederick vom Saal harshly criticizes U.S....

November 24, 2010 | Source: Yale Environment 360 | by Elizabeth Kolbert

The chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been much in the news lately. BPA is the building block for polycarbonate plastic – the sort of hard, clear plastic often used in water bottles – and it is found in everything from linings of metal cans, to the thermal paper used for cash register receipts, to the dental sealants applied to children’s teeth. The chemical mimics estrogen, and in studies involving lab animals, exposure to BPA, even at very low doses, has been linked to a wide variety of health problems, from an increased risk of prostate cancer, to heart disease, to damage to the reproductive system.

Frederick vom Saal, a biologist at the University of Missouri’s Endocrine Disruptors Group, is one of the world’s leading researchers on the ill health effects of BPA in humans and animals. He is also one of the most outspoken critics of U.S. businesses and regulators for glossing over, or concealing, the major impact that BPA exposure is increasingly having on human health. Vom Staal is irate that even though BPA is quite similar to another synthetic hormone – DES, or Diethylstilbesterol – that caused myriad health problems in thousands of women in the 1940s and 1950s, federal regulators are only now beginning to take seriously the threat from BPA.

In an interview with Yale Environment 360 contributor Elizabeth Kolbert, vom Saal excoriated the U.S. chemical industry for attempting to quash research showing the dangers of BPA and for threatening him and other researchers. Vom Saal was equally critical of regulators from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies, whom he says have relied on outdated studies, often funded by industry, to support claims that BPA is safe.

Vom Saal adamantly believes that BPA should be removed from all products as soon as possible, as was done a decade ago in Japan. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said earlier this year that the health effects of BPA represent “reason for some concern,” the chemical still remains unregulated. Vom Saal maintains that the regulatory system has failed to protect U.S. consumers, adding, “It is a lie. It is a fraud. It is absolutely intolerable that this kind of thing is going on.”