3/3/2014 UPDATE: The BPA 101 Google Hangout has already taken place but you can watch it here.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is probably one of the most talked about, blogged about, Tweeted about and researched chemicals out there. It’s become a three-letter household word. And yet, despite rising scientific concerns that it may be linked to numerous health problems including breast and prostate cancer, infertility and behavioral problems, its market continues to boom amid debates about its safety.
We get many questions about BPA here at EDF, so we decided to discuss the latest updates on the chemical in a Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, December 17 at 1:00 p.m. EST. We’ll be joined by our friends at Moms Clean Air Force, as well as one of the world’s leading experts on BPA, Dr. Laura Vandenberg of University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I’ll share highlights from my recent book on BPA, and Dr. Vandenberg will provide insights based on her latest research and a review of the science. Dominique Browning of Moms Clean Air Force will moderate and take questions from you.
BPA is everywhere
Billions of pounds of BPA are produced every year to make plastics found all around us, from food can linings and dental sealants to bus stop shelters. Because of its widespread use, it is impossible to completely avoid. State and local governments have regulated specific uses of BPA — primarily in baby bottles, but also infant formula and, in Connecticut, receipt paper. BPA’s widespread use in canned food continues and has the approval of the FDA.
It’s still found in some reusable water bottles, and is one of the ingredients of the flame retardant tetrabromobisphenol A. Given its ubiquity in consumer products, it’s not surprising that researchers have found BPA in the bodies of nearly every American, including newborns.
What’s troubling about BPA is that it is an “endocrine disrupting” chemical, meaning it has the potential to mimic and interfere with our own hormonal systems.
Pregnant women and children are particularly susceptible to the impact of endocrine disruptors. Children are not simply little people: They are developing and growing, guided at each step by the incredibly complex web of processes orchestrated by the endocrine system. Alarmingly, research has shown that exposure to even very small quantities of endocrine disruptors during early development can impact health later in life.
For example, studies in laboratory animals show that exposure can alter the structure of the developing breast and prostate glands, setting that individual up for a much higher risk of developing certain cancers later in life.
And yet, production of BPA has doubled in recent decades.