Saturday, May 03, 2008

Polycarbonate and its Dangers

Polycarbonate (a hard plastic), or rather Bisphenol A (BPA) which is used to construct it, is in the news lately and with good reason. The chemical has now been confirmed to cause a wide range of health problems in laboratory rats, including infertility, obesity and several types of cancer. One study exposed pregnant rats to large doses of BPA, from 2.5 to 1,000 micrograms per kg of body weight per day. The female rat offspring developed precancerous breast lesions during puberty at a relatively high rate—three to four times higher than usual. Even when the pregnant rats were exposed at lower levels, increased development of breast lesions occurred. This puts American women at risk for breast cancer.

A study of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 93% of Americans age 6 and above are living with measurable BPA in their bodies. A urine analysis shows that as many as 95% of people have been exposed to BPA. Besides breast cancer, other dangers include, but are not limited to, prostate cancer and brain tissue damage.

Where is BPA found? You don’t have to go far to find it. It’s used to make polycarbonate plastic which can be in the form of plastic baby bottles, water bottles, sports safety equipment and, ironically, medical devices. You can also find BPA in your can of baked beans because it’s used to make durable epoxy resins used in the coating of nearly every food and beverage cans.

I'm not sure if this glass is polycarbonate or not;
there's no number on the bottom, yet I strongly suspect that it is.

The chemical leaches out into liquid, such as baby formula or a sports drink/water or food in the container, and ultimately into the human body.

Even with so much evidence for medical problems due to BPA, some experts are not convinced as to the dangers the chemical poses to human health. The medical reports available rely on animal studies involving extreme amounts of the chemical, not the lesser amounts that a normal person receives. More studies are needed. Still, the data available should at least make citizens a bit more aware of the compounds that make up the products they use on a day to day basis, especially those intended for babies and small children.

If you’re unsure as to whether your bottles and dishes contain BPA, turn one over and look at the recyclable symbol on the bottom. If you find a 7 there, chances are it contains polycarbonate and BPA.

Canada is the first country to speak out about BPA and set a ban on baby bottles containing the chemical. Let’s hope the United States soon follows.

Go to the following websites for more information:

Xenia Ohio Citizen Journal

Reuter's News story

MSNBC The Daily Nightly

1 comment:

bethanyrae said...

Hey...I just knew my water bottle was making me fatter! really, though, i think it's that harder clear plastic, not the flexible stuff. The flexible stuff all has that other killer in it that makes plastic flexible. I forget the name, and Bob's not here right now to ask him. It's in all the baby bottle nipples, and it's quite serious, but it's not socially/economically acceptable to scare moms into staying home and nursing their babies. So we're all filling up on it. oh well.
You just do what you can with what you know.
Sorry to hear about the bill for your van. Ouch!
bethanyrae