Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Are BPA's Days Numbered?

Health authorities are gathering in Ottawa, Canada, for a week-long conference to evaluate the potential risks of BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical agent widely used in cans, bottles and other food packaging.

The meeting has been called by the World Health Organization in the wake of growing concerns about the compound's effects. Last month, Canada was the first government in the world to add the chemical to a national toxic substances list.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently conducting its own review of BPA. The European Food Safety Authority recently concluded food exposures aren't a concern.

Because BPA mimics the female hormone estrogen, attention will focus, among other things, on whether pregnant women and their fetuses are more at risk from these exposures than other consumers. Canada has banned the use of BPA from the manufacture of baby bottles.

Some Studies have linked low-levels of BPA to prostate enlargement and skewed mammary gland development in test animals indirectly exposed during fetal development through doses given to their pregnant mothers. Research funded by the plastics industry disputes those findings.

A study published last week in the journal Fertility and Sterility of workers in Chinese factories who used BPA linked the chemical to poor sperm quality among those with the highest exposures. Earlier this year, another study, of typical Americans, found those with the most BPA had a 45 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Practically all canned food contains minute amounts of BPA.