The Latest News On BPA

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Just when we all thought the BPA controversy had settled down, it rears it’s thorny head yet again. As before, you need to be very wary of where you get your information… and the steps you take to protect yourself… your family… and your customers. 
Research has shown that BPA may well mimic estrogen and be linked to cancer, reproductive problems, developmental delays in kids and cardiovascular disease. This comes from work published this past September in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found those with high levels of BPA in the body were more likely to have heart disease or diabetes. High BPA levels upped the risk for these diseases by 39%, but no one can be sure it’s the bisphenol A that’s the culprit — still the link is there.
What started all this, in case you’ve forgotten, was the April 2008 U.S. National Toxicology Program report that was a follow up from an expert panel review completed in 2007. Both the expert panel and the NTP reports similarly concluded a low-rate risk, or negligible concern, for adults and some concern for infants and children. 
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. And yet the controversy, stubbornly, didn’t go away.
Canada just announced plans to go ahead with regulations that prohibit the import, sale and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles with bisphenol A. The regulations should take affect in 2009.Several U.S. states aren’t waiting for government say-so and are moving toward bans of BPA as well. In the U.S., the FDA has taken a difficult to comprehend position, even though nearly 100 studies  as well as the U.S. National Toxicology Program mentioned above found that there was “some concern” that BPA could effect the brains and behavior of fetuses and young children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to stand behind (for the moment anyway) a draft report that claims products (like baby bottles and re-usable water bottles) containing the chemical are safe at current levels of exposure. But an FDA Science Board subcommittee that peer-reviewed this draft report said last week said that the FDA assessment had “important limitations.” Another way of pointing out the FDA draft relied on chemical industry funded research and ignored other reliable studies. The report concluded that “the Margins of Safety defined by FDA as ‘adequate’ are, in fact, inadequate.”
So what the FDA told us in August, that BPA in baby bottles (or re-usable water bottles) and such was safe… was wrong. Too bad we can’t turn back the clock and un-use all those bottles. And what if you’ve put your company name all over re-usable water bottles in an effort to promote your business and do something for the environment? 
What you need to know, if you’re worried about BPA, is to look for unbreakable BPA-free plastic like polyethylene, a milky, less-shiny plastic (sometimes marked with recycling code 1 and/or the abbreviation PET) that doesn’t leach BPA. Other plastics not made with BPA are high density polyethylene (2, HDPE), low density polyethylene (4, LDPE), or polypropylene (5, PP). Remember, though some (even TV new reports) will tell you recycling code 7 also denotes BPA content, it does not.
As a business owner who may be using re-usable water bottles as a promotional tool, be prepared to answer questions about BPA content. It will help to education customers and staff about the BPA controversy, and how to use water bottles safely. Urge everyone to clean bottles with soap and water, but not excessively hot water, and get rid of a bottle once it looks worn, has cracks, or starts to degrade. 
Trying to address the issue, the FDA released a statement in response to the Science Board report suggesting worried parents turn to BPA-free plastic alternatives or glass baby bottles, or to talk to their pediatrician about powdered formula. You’ll find Consumer Reports featured a test of some BPA-free bottles, and found that these products had minute amounts of BPA.
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