It seems like it would have happened sooner—banning a toxic substance found in baby bottles that's linked to neurological damage and endocrine disruption. But better late than never: On Tuesday the federal government finally announced a ban on bisphenol-A (or BPA) in children's drink containers, reports the Washington Post.
Bisphenol-A is a chemical substance used in the production of many everyday items. It's come under scrutiny since studies have shown it's linked to reproductive abnormalities, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Back in October, the American Chemistry Council (the U.S. chemical industry's chief association) asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to phase out any rules that allowed BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. The council had determined that all bottle and sippy cup manufacturers had already ceased using the chemical due for safety reasons anyway.
Nine months later, the FDA has taken action. While the ban is good in theory, it's not necessarily keeping us safer. Bottle and sippy cup companies had already phased out the chemical, which means the ban was mostly lip service.
Worse, we're not living in a BPA-free world just yet. FDA spokesman Allen Curtis told the public in a statement, "The FDA continues to support the safety of BPA for use in products that hold food," he said.
So, while babies might be slightly safer, anyone not in diapers isn't so lucky. Recent reports show that 93 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their urine. In April, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that 4.7 million metric tons of BPA will be produced this year.
Cans—including those that contain popular kids' soups—are a big source of the problem. A Harvard study revealed in November that people who ate canned soups for five days in a row had 1,200 times as much BPA in their bodies as people who ate soup from scratch.
More recently, a study published in March 2012 found that even low doses of BPA (and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals) are more dangerous than previously thought.
The study's lead author, Lauren Vandenberg, spared no gory details in warning the public of the risks: "At high doses [like industrial accidents], endocrine-disrupting chemicals can kill people, cause birth defects and several malformation of fetuses," she said. "These studies overwhelmingly show that [endocrine-disrupting chemicals] have actions at low doses, too. . . . They're changing the development of organs that can have permanent effects."
Yeah. Altered organs. Just another incentive to cook from scratch.
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