Congressional Committee Investigating Bisphenol A as Hazardous to Infants

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Washington, DCThe Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the head of its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations are concerned about possible dangers to infants from bisphenol A. Michigan Democratic congressmen John Dingell and Bart Stupak want answers from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and seven companies that manufacture and package baby formula about the use and safety of bisphenol A in packaging that contains infant formula as well as in plastic nursing bottles.

First developed in the 1930s, bisphenol A acts similarly to a weak form of the estrogen hormone. It is a key component of polycarbonate plastics, which are commonly used in food container linings, baby bottles, clear plastic tableware, and a variety of other everyday products. It is known that bisphenol A readily leaches out of these products and is equally readily ingested; one scientific study found evidence of bisphenol A in 95% of all human urine samples tested.

According to the Environment California advocacy group, "Bisphenol A is a developmental, neural, and reproductive toxicant" and even in very low doses has been linked to "cancers, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity, among other problems."

Infant VictimAn independent laboratory study conducted in cooperation with the group tested five popular brands of polycarbonate baby bottles. All five brands showed bisphenol A leaching "at levels found to cause harm in numerous laboratory studies," Environment California reported.

Both the plastics industry and the FDA insist that bisphenol A presents no health hazard at normal exposure levels. Scientific researchers such as University of Missouri biologist Frederick vom Saal dispute their findings; he says that the studies used to claim that bisphenol A is safe are "profoundly flawed and in some cases exhibit outright fraud." He points out that while eleven industry-funded studies unanimously found BPA harmless, 90 percent of 104 government-funded, found harmful effects, concluding, "Among people who have actually read this literature there is no debate, just an illusion of controversy."

Vom Saal told ABC News, "There are over six billion pounds of this product made every year. At very low doses, below the amounts that are present in humans, particularly when exposure occurs in fetuses and newborns, you end up with those babies eventually developing prostate cancer, breast cancer, [and] they become hyperactive."

The FDA is currently reviewing the safety of bisphenol A but continues to assert that it "sees no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict its use." Dingel and Stupak want FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to explain how and why he reached that conclusion. Stupak says, "At best, the scientific community has concerns about the safety of bisphenol A. Our primary goal is to protect infants from a potentially harmful chemical."

Recently, Canadian retailers took water and other items bottled in polycarbonate containers off their shelves, and the city of San Francisco prohibits bisphenol A in toys and child care products for children under three years old.

Supervisor Fiona Ma, a key force behind the biphenol A ban, says, "We have a precautionary principle here in San Francisco. It says if there's a possibility of harm or damage, then we should err on the side of caution." The FDA may need to re-learn that same principle.

Bisphenol-A Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered damages from BPA, please contact a lawyer involved in a possible [Bisphenol-A Lawsuit] to review your case at no cost or obligation.

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