Would you like obesity with that?
May 25, 2008 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Bisphenol A. Canada is banning it in baby bottles, while the California State Senate recently passed a bill to ban it in child care products. Even the US Senate is getting in on the action. Bill Moyers thought it was interesting enough to run this Expose story. In addition to the previously discussed cancer risk, it may also cause obesity. Is this pointless overreaction, or is it an example of government's failure to act [PDF] in the face of industry pressure? The FDA, was, after all, tasked with screening such endocrine disruptors over ten years ago. Previously on the blue and green.
posted by wierdo (58 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
First post to the blue. Hopefully the links and new developments make up for the subject's previous appearance.
posted by wierdo at 6:09 PM on May 25, 2008


Don't apologize, don't make excuses for your F.F.P.P. Just do it. Wear your newness like a sassy drag queen on her first outing. Dare those catty bitches to talk, because you're prettier and you've got a slinkier walk!

Also, neat post.
posted by adipocere at 6:15 PM on May 25, 2008 [8 favorites]


It's a nanny-state pointless overreaction. But don't let that stop anyone. Everything in the universe is a threat somehow, ban it all.
posted by jfuller at 6:28 PM on May 25, 2008


I'm thankful there are helpful trade groups that provide us with unbiased information...
posted by Tube at 6:30 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


"In addition to the previously discussed cancer risk, it may also cause obesity."

Bacon, until they can prove that BPA isn't to blame for my spare tire you've got a reprieve.
posted by mullingitover at 6:31 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, there are so many chemicals with so many different effects, including 'natural' stuff. Just think about all the hormones in Cow's Milk, for example. The fact that something might have a hormonal effect doesn't mean it's bad for you.
posted by delmoi at 6:35 PM on May 25, 2008


The strange thing is that Bisphenol A is already banned in Europe, so when they make baby bottles in China for the EU market, they already use plastic without it. Ironic that we already had the choice not to have it, but that we have lower standards.
posted by parmanparman at 6:37 PM on May 25, 2008


It's a nanny-state pointless overreaction.

Yeah, babies should suck it up (so to speak) and take it like pre-men! I've had it up to HERE with the coddling infants get!
posted by DU at 6:46 PM on May 25, 2008 [12 favorites]


Well, when there's a nickle to be saved in materials cost, isn't it the lawful duty of a responsible corporation to do so? I mean, someone has to think of the shareholders, the most downtrodden class of people to ever exist.
posted by Talanvor at 6:47 PM on May 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I discovered the same shopping for infant carseats not so long ago. The exact same seats are built safer for the European market than for Canada or the US. On the one hand - it's not so strange weird that firms wouldn't use more expensive materials in countries that don't require them - but it is depressing to think of firms building down to safety standards. (I'm also a bit surprised it's economical carrying multiple product lines for different countries, just to sneak in cheaper bits. I wonder if it's because safety standards are so dissimilar it's impossible to build against the "toughest" standards and sell to everyone.)
posted by ~ at 6:51 PM on May 25, 2008


You know, recent studies have found that it takes significantly less Bisphenol A to cause a noticeable effect in rats than was previously thought.

Or from the first link "All of this is occurring at exposures in animals that lead to blood levels that I guarantee are below what are in your body," he says. "No level has ever been found in animal experiments that doesn't cause harm."

Just saying..as I drink from an aluminum can coated with a thin layer of plastic that contains Bisphenol A.
posted by wierdo at 6:53 PM on May 25, 2008


offtopic, but it gives me great pride that quality journalism is alive and well in Milwaukee. The pulitzer prize that the Journal-Sentinal won this year nearly pales in comparison to two mentions in the blue in one day.

I'd read this story when it first came out but somehow Bill Moyers really made it hit home. definitely a topic worthy of serious consideration.
posted by skatz at 7:07 PM on May 25, 2008


You can have my Nalgene bottle when you pry it from my cold OH MY FUCKING GOD I HAVE BOOBIES BRB
posted by loquacious at 7:25 PM on May 25, 2008 [11 favorites]


meta name="keywords" content="bisphenol-a, bpa, bisphenol A, polycarbonate, health, safety ,epoxy, occupational, environmental, estrogenic, pharmacokinetics, reproductive, developmental, toxicity, endocrine, disruption, hormonal, Environmental Protection Agency, chemical, low dose, vom Saal, Welshons, subchronic, chronic, compounds, scientist, regulatory, bisophenol, bisophenol-A, bisophenol A">

See also: shock doctrine
posted by acro at 7:30 PM on May 25, 2008


sorry, via tube's 'trade groups' link
posted by acro at 7:31 PM on May 25, 2008


The U.S. is actually becoming somewhat legendary as a dumping ground for products banned as unsafe in most of the rest of the world.
posted by kyrademon at 7:54 PM on May 25, 2008


~ writes "I wonder if it's because safety standards are so dissimilar it's impossible to build against the 'toughest' standards and sell to everyone."

This is the case with cars, it's actually difficult (read impossible) to build one that can be sold everywhere. Specifics for stuff like headlights, emissions and bumpers have mutually incompatible requirements.
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 PM on May 25, 2008


You know, I'm pretty glad I decided to switch to a metal bottle after my AskMeFi question...
posted by Loto at 8:07 PM on May 25, 2008


Well if the FDA approves it, you can be damn sure it's good for you. [/droll]
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 PM on May 25, 2008


It's a nanny-state pointless overreaction.

Hey, enjoy it, land of freedom and all that. Sip a big B.A. cup of bovine somatotropin while you're at it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:41 PM on May 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a nanny-state

*fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap*
posted by dirigibleman at 9:43 PM on May 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


The real concern I always have when I read something like this is, "What is my real danger now?" and "What new dangers will I be exposed to after I am sufficiently protected from the danger de jour?"

Truth be told, I'm pretty sure my crappy lifestyle has a more severe impact on my health than any three Mefite's trace levels of Bisphenol A.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:11 PM on May 25, 2008


Sip a big B.A. cup of bovine somatotropin while you're at it.

You should read up on where they got the bGH sequence and where meat comes from. Just saying.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:15 PM on May 25, 2008


Is it possible to get milk without bGH? I mean, even natural milk would contain some, right?
posted by delmoi at 10:40 PM on May 25, 2008


It's on your teeth, too.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:06 PM on May 25, 2008


It's a nanny-state pointless overreaction. But don't let that stop anyone. Everything in the universe is a threat somehow, ban it all.

I ban your ideology then.
posted by srboisvert at 1:05 AM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't the real threat with this stuff when you heat it? From what I understand, the guy who discovered it noticed some of the issues after he put the coated items through an autoclave. And the baby bottles are an issue when the mother heats them either in boiling water or in the microwave.
posted by Dave Faris at 5:23 AM on May 26, 2008


When you heat the plastic up, like in a microwave, the compound both diffuses more quickly out of the plastic and is more soluble in water, so, yeah, double-whammy. A big deal of baby-bottles and soups for lunch.

Appreciable concentrations can still build up if left in contact for a longer time at lower temperatures, however. This is the concern for can liners and water bottles, for example.
posted by bonehead at 6:05 AM on May 26, 2008


The organisation I work for gets a lot of calls about this. Here's our response.

In brief:
“Experts voiced fresh fears?” On the contrary, the experts that issued the EFSA opinion concluded that the risks from BPA are even smaller than it was previously assumed they might be. They carried out a thorough review of the data on Bisphenol A safety and concluded that according to the scientific evidence, the safe level of lifelong intake should be increased by a factor of five, from 0.01 to 0.05 mg/kg bodyweight/day. The only quote provided in the article to support the claim of “fresh fears” is from Elizabeth Salter Green, director of the WWF’s “toxics” campaign.
posted by SciencePunk at 6:05 AM on May 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine does research on the effects of Bisphenol-A (on mice). One of the scary things she discovered is that unlike many other chemicals, BPA seems to have a higher effect on the endocrine system at lower concentrations than at some higher concentrations. (I can't seem to find a reference at the moment.)
posted by leahwrenn at 6:24 AM on May 26, 2008


The strange thing is that Bisphenol A is already banned in Europe
Is that true? I cannot find anything about that, only about "maximum exposure levels", which I am sure exist in the US as well.
posted by davar at 7:33 AM on May 26, 2008


We've been on BPA purge and lockdown for about a month now since it came across my wife's radar.

We tried switching to the glass baby bottles, but they really suck, in our experience -- one exploded in a bottle warmer, and another cracked in the dishwasher. Shame, because I like the heft of them.

I ditched my Nalgene and am looking for a SIGG bottle, but I'll be damned if I can find a retailer in Little Rock, and their website doesn't have a retailer locator.

Is it possible to get milk without bGH? I mean, even natural milk would contain some, right?

I don't think so, at least not nearly at the same levels. Buy from local dairies, if you can, or buy organic milk from the hippie section of your local supermarket. IME, the organic milk is richer, tastes better, and doesn't expire quite as quickly as the gallon plastic jug stuff.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:25 AM on May 26, 2008


from what i understand (having seen a couple nice presentations on this at the ISHPSSB), the real danger here is not necessarily to you or i, but to the next generation of miscreants whose in-the-womb development can go awry.

and even then, the effects of this developmental tinkering are in most cases not going to present themselves immediately upon birth; rather they will manifest as that generation reaches puberty, and then a tad later as modified mammaries and prostates start causing serious problems.

one of the most fascinating bits of US politics has been how some congressmen (no doubt siting on enlarged prostates) have started to see past the chemical industry's white-washing of the issue once they hear testimony about 'effects on prostate development'. got your attention now, gents?
posted by garfy3 at 8:37 AM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


middleclasstool, do you have a Whole Foods? That's where I got my Sigg bottle. Amazon has them, too. Oh, also REI carries them.

I've switched from using plastic for freezing leftovers to glass, as well as to a Sigg bottle for drinking. I never liked the weird taste I got from a nalgene bottle, frankly. At work, I heat up soup in ceramic bowls.

People may think this situation is overblown, but as someone who already has endocrine/hormonal problems, why wouldn't I switch away from something that might be harmful to me? There's an added bonus of using less plastic, too.
posted by sugarfish at 8:39 AM on May 26, 2008


So as far as endocrine is concerned, isn't that a developmental hormone? So I can see why kids and nursing mothers should avoid anything that might unbalance their growth hormones, but once you're an adult, what are the side effects of unbalanced endocrine?
posted by Dave Faris at 9:27 AM on May 26, 2008


You can get SIGG bottles via ReusableBags.com.
posted by cadge at 9:40 AM on May 26, 2008


Just FYI, if you are drinking from an opaque, flexy nalgene bottle, then please don't throw it out. It's made of polyethylene and is just fine. The clear, fancy-colored lexan bottles are the ones to get all scared of.
posted by anthill at 9:50 AM on May 26, 2008


I can't wait for all those wonderful blogs and other websites that are the "future of journalism" to start doing the type of work and research the Journal Sentinel did to produce this story.

Matter of fact I'm going to start holding my breath......*NOW*
posted by photoslob at 10:05 AM on May 26, 2008


Just saying..as I drink from an aluminum can coated with a thin layer of plastic that contains Bisphenol A.

Exactly. The inside of just about every can (including cans of infant formula) is coated with this stuff.

# Of all foods tested, chicken soup, infant formula, and ravioli had BPA levels of highest concern. Just one to three servings of foods with these concentrations could expose a woman or child to BPA at levels that caused serious adverse effects in animal tests.
# For 1 in 10 cans of all food tested, and 1 in 3 cans of infant formula, a single serving contained enough BPA to expose a woman or infant to BPA levels more than 200 times the government's traditional safe level of exposure for industrial chemicals.


--from here.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:27 AM on May 26, 2008


Dave Faris, "Endocrine" is an adjective.
posted by sdodd at 10:35 AM on May 26, 2008


Everything in the universe is a threat somehow, ban it all.

Or we could just try to get harmful chemicals out of our food.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:49 AM on May 26, 2008


BPA has not been banned in Europe. Canada is the first country to consider a ban.

Sure, there are all sorts of chemicals that might be bad for you. But it seems particularly ludicrous to make baby bottles and line food cans with a chemical whose first commercial application was as an estrogen substitute. BPA is a great example of a situation where the precautionary principle should rule, i.e. you should err on the side of precaution. But in practice the US regulatory system operates on the opposite principal: assume it's safe and let industry use it until it is proven harmful beyond a shadow of a doubt.

And we all know how good industry is at creating shadows of doubt.
posted by alms at 12:39 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Endocrine" is an adjective.

In the link you gave, they've gone and added a definition for the noun form while you weren't looking.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:51 PM on May 26, 2008


they've gone and added a definition for the noun form

Heh, yeah. None of those forms describe the name of a particular hormone as your original comment implied.

Sorry, I was just trying to be helpful by pointing you to a definition. There is no single hormone called "endocrine" -- it's the name of the whole system that produces hormones in the body.
posted by sdodd at 1:29 PM on May 26, 2008


Ok, so the endocrine system, which produces hormones essentially used in growth, aren't really an issue when it comes to full-grown adults, are they?
posted by Dave Faris at 1:36 PM on May 26, 2008


Yeah, there are plenty of endocrine disorders that affect adults. Most notably the adult forms of diabetes. I believe the FPP refers to research into the role of chemicals that disrupt endocrine function in adult obesity.
posted by sdodd at 1:56 PM on May 26, 2008


Yeah. I looked. affects mood, too.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:19 PM on May 26, 2008


Almost all plastic tastes weird to me. Plastic seems to outgas to some degree. Take a plastic container, seal it, then reopen it a few days later and take a small whiff of the inside - you can smell the chemicals which have seeped out of the plastic.
posted by Sukiari at 3:05 PM on May 26, 2008


Whether or not BPA is as bad as all that, its still plastic and plastic is nasty shit. Techno-man, the consummate anal-retentive, peaked when he figured out how to make eternal excrement. Plastic never quite goes away, it just breaks into smaller pieces. All plastics are an insult to the earth from start to finish and, until about 60 years ago, human beings for the most part did fine without them. Not too long ago there were no plastic bottles and people turned in reusable glass bottles for a refund.

Anyone who cares to can help turn the corner right now by using canvas tote bags for groceries. I guarantee that once you see how much handier they are you’ll kick yourself for ever having used those awful plastic bags that they give you at the store.
posted by Huplescat at 6:09 PM on May 26, 2008


One of the scary things she discovered is that unlike many other chemicals, BPA seems to have a higher effect on the endocrine system at lower concentrations than at some higher concentrations.

The same applies to the hormones in birth control pills: the original Pill had a wholloping dosage, but it was found that lower doses were far more effective.

One suspects the same will be found true of a good many organic chemicals used by our bodies' regulatory systems.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:18 PM on May 26, 2008


And one of my wishes: standardized glass containers. They'd be pretty much the ultimate in recycleable.

And bring back stubby beer bottles, dammit!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:20 PM on May 26, 2008


> And bring back stubby beer bottles, dammit!

Full Sail Session.

Yeah!
posted by Durruti at 9:42 PM on May 26, 2008


Plastic = oil. USA + oil = take it up the ass and shut up.

We could care less about our people and we prove it everyday. Money over people--that's the American way.

Makes me sick.
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:24 AM on May 27, 2008


Huplescat: We probably ought not eat plastic, nor throw it away, but I disagree that it's even unnecessary.

That box on which you type that makes words appear on this website? There's a good deal of plastic in there. Even old mostly metal desktop cases had some plastic. Most of the components have at least some plastic in them, although there are notable exceptions. My laptop's exterior surfaces are almost entirely plastic. I'm fine with that. I just don't want to eat plastic, although I do want plastic water bottles, just not old ones that leach crap into my water.

I do think we would be wise to cut back on our use of plastic, but mainly from the aspect of conservation of what oil remains. Plastics are incredibly useful. I'll even go so far to say as they're good to have around. We probably don't need to use them for as many things as we do, however.
posted by wierdo at 10:04 AM on May 27, 2008


I ditched my Nalgene and am looking for a SIGG bottle

You can get SIGG bottles via ReusableBags.com.

I love how the "safe" and "environmentally friendly" alternative now is to use an aluminum can.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:23 AM on May 27, 2008


... lined with an epoxy coating, to boot.

While in a hurry on a camping trip, I once filled up a sigg bottle with freshly-sterilized (aka boiling) water. Later that day I took a swig and wound up with a mouth full of coating shards. Mmmm.
posted by anthill at 2:30 PM on May 27, 2008


I've been doing my best to avoid Bisphenol A as well.

No one in my house can stand the taste of our tap water so we fill up big water bottles at the water place and pour out from those. I freaked out when I got hip to the BPA thing because the bottles were made of 3 or 7 plastic (a couple from PVC and the others from some polycarbonate) which is full of the stuff. I managed to get my hands on several GLASS 5-gallon water bottles (from the 1930's - I hope they don't have fucking radium in them) and that made me really happy - plus, they look so cool.

So I have my lovely glass bottles. My clear Nalgenes are for pocket change now. I made sure that the only plastic containers I have (if any) are made of polypropylene, etc. Also, I'm trying to get rid of anything I have with phthalates in it.

I was feeling pretty good until I went to refill my big heavy glass bottles at the purified water place and I saw that all the equipment's conduits were made of PVC.

SON OF A BITCH
posted by redteam at 7:33 PM on May 27, 2008


redteam writes "I was feeling pretty good until I went to refill my big heavy glass bottles at the purified water place and I saw that all the equipment's conduits were made of PVC."

Even if they had stainless the tap water they are purifying is probably delivered in pvc piping.
posted by Mitheral at 7:54 PM on May 27, 2008


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