oncerns Linger Over Safety
Of Chemical Used in Baby Bottles
By JARED A. FAVOLE
September 3, 2008 12:10 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- Government experts on Wednesday released a final report on the safety of a chemical used in plastic baby bottles, saying they have "some concern" the chemical is linked to health and developmental problems.
The chemical, bisphenol-A, or BPA, makes plastic hard and shatterproof, and is used in hundreds of consumer products from plastic baby bottles to CDs.
The report, released by the Department of Health and Human Services" National Toxicology Program, doesn't say BPA should be banned but that more research is necessary to understand how the chemical affects human health.
"There remains considerable uncertainty whether the changes seen in the animal studies are directly applicable to humans, and whether they would result in clear adverse health effects," said NTP Associate Director John Bucher, Ph.D. "But we have concluded that the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed."
Concerns over the chemical's safety have heightened in recent months, prompting more than a dozen states to consider legislation banning BPA in some children and food products. Concerns about BPA also drove Wal-Mart Stores Inc., among other retailers, to say it would stop selling baby bottles containing the chemical. Canada has said it intends to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles.
The Food and Drug Administration said last month, based on current science, that there isn't enough evidence to support banning the chemical from baby and food products. The agency's assessment relied on part of a draft of the report released today. The FDA is holding a hearing on Sept. 16 to discuss BPA.
The report is similar to a draft the National Toxicology Program released in April. There are, however, a few key differences.
The final report says experts have "minimal concern" BPA exposure will affect the development of mammary gland or accelerate puberty in females. The draft said there was "some concern," which is a more elevated concern. Officials lowered the concern after a group of experts reviewing the draft said there wasn't enough evidence to support the earlier level of concern, said Michael Shelby, an associate director at NTP.
The NTP used a five-level scale of concern, ranging from negligible concern to serious concern. "Some concern" falls in the middle.
The NTP's report relies on a wide-array of research involving numerous laboratory studies, though most of the research was from academia, Shelby said. The program's findings contradict some industry studies that say there is minimal concern BPA affects human development.
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