This morning brought an announcement of another “official” government finding concerning the hazards of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical building block used primarily to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.  If you’ve paid even minimal attention to current events the past few years, you know that BPA, while enormously useful, effective and versatile, is quite controversial because of its use in food and beverage packaging and plastic baby bottles.  Studies performed in animals have suggested that BPA acts like the female hormone estrogen, and is linked to cancer and infertility. Consequently, activists have campaigned worldwide for its prohibition and various governments have enacted sales restrictions.

Now, however, the principal government guardian of public health among Canadians, Health Canada, has completed a study and concluded that exposure to BPA from jarred baby food products, water bottles, and other food packaging items is well below levels that would pose a threat to human health.  In water bottles, the average concentration of BPA detected in the study was 1.5 parts per billion.  At that rate, an adult weighing 130 pounds would have to consume about 264 gallons of bottled water in one day to approach Health Canada's tolerable daily intake.  Not a very realistic scenario.

We can add this regulatory “acquittal” of BPA to those provided earlier by the European Food Safety Authority, German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Danish Environmental Protection Agency, French Food Safety Authority, the Swiss Office for Public Health, and Food Standards Australia-New Zealand.  Nevertheless, the drumbeat will continue in the NGO community that BPA must be eliminated to “protect the children.”   Responding to market pressures, manufacturers are increasingly supplying non-BPA alternatives and parents who prefer to err on the side of caution are free to seek them out.  More and more, however, it appears safe to allow BPA to fall further down our list of modern day ‘hazards” while we focus our attention on avoiding things that could really do us harm.  

 


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