Concern about Bisphenol A in polycarbonate plastics
Polycarbonate plastics made from Bisphenol A are clear and very tough. Polycarbonate plastics are used for impact resistant glasses, but they are also used in a variety of household products like baby formula bottles, CDs and DVDs, plastic forks, dental sealants, housings for electronics, and resin liners for canned food.
Recently, a report from the National Toxicology Program, an office of the National Institutes of Health, indicated that residual amounts of Bisphenol A in polycarbonate plastics that come in contact with food may pose a health hazard. Bisphenol A, or BPA, has become so common in the United States that it has been detected in the urine of 93 percent of the population over 6 years of age.
Bisphenol A can activate estrogen receptors, leading to physiological effects similar to the body's own estrogens. In essence, Bisphenol A acts like a feminizing hormone. Bisphenol A has been linked in laboratory animals to breast cancer, prostate cancer, and early puberty in females.
Do you remember the now banned insecticide DDT? One of the reasons why it was banned was because it had estrogen-like effects that caused birds to lay eggs with thin shells. The eggs would break before they could hatch. Birds, like the bald eagle, which ate fish contaminated with high quantities of DDT came to the brink of extinction. There have been some studies that concluded that DDT was wrongly blamed for the decline of the eagles because eggshells had been thinning long before DDT was introduced. However, the hormone-mimicking effects of DDT have been substantiated, and it is interesting to note the structural similarity of DDT and Bisphenol A.
DDT and Bisphenol A
You can minimize the quantities of Bisphenol A that you consume by not storing food or drinks in polycarbonate plastic containers. Also, do not heat food in plastic containers, as this may release some of the chemicals from the plastic into the food.
The National Toxicology Program is accepting comments to its draft report. The public comment period closes on May 23, 2008.
1. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) Draft Brief On Bisphenol A (BPA)
2. Questions and Answers about the Draft National Toxicology Program Brief on Bisphenol A
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