FDA Declares Bisphenol A Safe

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is the chemical used in various plastic bottles and can linings that Canada recently banned, consumers in Arkansas, California, and Ohio have filed lawsuits over, and Playtex and Nalgene have stopped using. The fear is that it’s toxic—studies on animals in Canada have shown that it’s damaging, and some tests in the U.S. suggest it’s harmful to humans as well. Critics of the anti-BPA movement point out that the human studies rely on super high dosages that never occur in real life, and that making safety decisions based on the general public’s fears isn’t exactly scientific.

Now—right before California decides whether to ban BPA in children’s products—the FDA has revisited its earlier studies and reaffirmed that “the trace amounts of bisphenol A that leach out of food containers are not a threat to infants or adults.”

Critics are saying the FDA is cherry-picking what studies to consider in its decision:

“It’s ironic FDA would choose to ignore dozens of studies funded by (the National Institutes of Health) β€” this country’s best scientists β€” and instead rely on flawed studies from industry,” said Pete Myers, chief scientist for Environmental Health Sciences.

Myers said the agency disregarded recent studies of bisphenol’s effects included in the National Toxicology Program’s April draft report.

That group’s review of animal studies suggested low doses of bisphenol can cause changes in behavior and the brain, and that it may reduce survival and birth weight in fetuses. A final version of the group’s findings is expected next month.

Commenting on those studies in its 105-page assessment, the FDA said they had “inconsistencies and inadequacies which limit the interpretations of the findings.”

We’re not sure what sort of effect this will have on the pending lawsuits or on California’s potential ban, but the BPA debate should take on new energy next month, when the National Toxicology Program’s final report is released and the FDA brings in outside “advisors” to debate its own findings.

“FDA says chemical found in plastic bottles is safe” [Associated Press]
(Photo: Oop)

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  1. Triborough says:

    No doubt the plastic lobby is involved in this.
    The plastics lobby, as long as we make money and don’t pay out much in lawsuits we are happy.

  2. rellog says:

    Nothing new here. Bush has been cherry picking scientific reports for 8 years now. Guess this is what happens when an administration gathers the leaders of various governmental departments from the industries that employed then, and will again after they destroy our protections…

    BTW, it just astounds me how much is banned in other reasonable, well educated countries that is not here. No wonder we have such a sick country…

  3. nicemarmot617 says:

    We try not to ban so much stuff, rellog. It’s part of the whole American-freedom thing we’re supposed to have going on.

    That being said, I personally try to avoid carcinogens and it appears there is a good chance BPA could be one.

  4. Oh good, I can once again pour boiling water into my polycarbonate coffee maker and polycarbonate tea maker without fear of dying a slow, painful death by all that BPA.

    Well except of course that I never stopped.

  5. redheadedstepchild says:

    @Michael Belisle: NOOOO! boiling water makes a bad cup of coffee out of the aeropress. Let it cool for just a second, then pour.

    I love mine.

  6. timmus says:

    If the FDA is just going to laissez-faire the entire market, then why do we even need them? Perhaps it’s time to lobby Congress to abolish them. Then we’ll either get some taxpayer savings or they’ll think twice about dancing to the tune of manufacturers.

  7. @redheadedstepchild: Gah! You are absolutely correct.

    I misspoke. When I don’t have a thermometer available, I do follow Adler’s suggestion for a double: pour boiling water to the top of the plunger’s 2, and then fill up to the top of the oval with room-temperature water.

  8. Eldritch says:

    Wonder how much money buys the public’s health…

  9. @redheadedstepchild: Also, Adler had the Aeropress tested for BPA. The lab was unable to measure any BPA in the brew.

  10. Nakko says:

    I’ll stick to glass bottles to feed my baby, even if the FDA says that causing hormonal problems in my infant does not threaten my infant.

    Now, I need to actually have a kid or two to go with my sardonic statement.

  11. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    FDA= F-ckin Dumb Asses

  12. arcticJKL says:

    So what evidence is there our there proving Bisphenol A is bad for you?
    I trust the State of California as much as I trust the FDA

  13. michaelangelo1969 says:

    at least the FDA stopped Thalidomide while the canadians gave it to pregnant mothers

  14. tinycorkscrew says:

    @arcticJKL: You could start with the Lyndsey Layton article in the Washington Post, published in April of this year. There are more than 100 university and government studies that show it’s dangerous at low levels.

    The FDA chose to allow it based on two studies funded by the American Plastics Council.

  15. Claystil says:

    The evidence of adverse effects in adults is paper thin, but the same cannot be said about the evidence for adverse effects on infants.

    This stuff’s already in drinking water and just about everywhere else. it’s reall ypretty unavoidable at this point.

  16. rellog says:

    @Claystil: Other than industry backed studies, please point to a source for your “paper thin” argument. I swear, people listen to AM radio and think they know what’s going on… try NPR for a change, ya might learn something.

    As for the US “freedom” thing… when businesses hide information that can cause significant health issues (not just in this case, for example… potassium bromate) then our government SHOULD step in. Corporations, IMO should NOT have the same rights as American citizens… and their “freedoms” need to have greater oversight.

  17. lingum says:

    Citing NPR as an avenue of arriving at the truth is laughable.

  18. chartrule says:

    when big business decides the outcome of FDA product reviews – its time to can the FDA

  19. Sanveann says:

    The FDA can say whatever the hell it wants, but I’m not feeding my kids anything in any containers that can even potentially cause endocrine issues.

    My son, now 16 months, used TONS of BPA-containing bottles as a baby (we now use glass and polypropylene — we would prefer to use just glass, but those suckers are HEAVY and rather painful when a toddler chucks one at you).

    He seems totally fine, but I worry that issues may pop up later. They probably won’t, but why take the chance? Our second kiddo is due at Christmastime, and nothing he drinks will ever come out of a bottle or sippy with BPA. Just not worth the risk when there are plenty of good alternatives out there.

  20. CaesarBach says:

    I think I’m gonna hold my decision until the wording “can cause” and “may reduce” become definitive answers. Remember that whole aspartame scare??? “Oh no, aspartame gives mice tumors!!!!”, but forget to mention they injected 20% of the mouse’s body weight with aspartame to give them such said tumors. I would drown in Diet Mountain Dew before that happens. Good call…

  21. scooby2 says:

    More proof that the FDA is absolutely worthless. We should ban lobbying or join the EU already. Our government is disgusting and it is never going to change until we get new blood in Washington.

  22. Sanveann says:

    @CaesarBach: I would tend to agree with you, if these were the only bottles in the known universe. But with so many other options out there, I see no reason to take a risk, no matter how minimal it may turn out to be.

  23. GamblesAC2 says:

    See while I agree that the FDA is a usless sac of shit i also think that if something is being band in california maby completly banning it nationwide isnt a good idea beacuse look at the way it is in california right now, a giant nanny state case in point


    + Watch video

  24. lightaugust says:

    @arcticJKL: First off, my daddy’s in plastics, so let me say I LOVE plastics. Plastics sent me to college. But don’t kid yourself… every other industrialized nation has tested this and found it to be dangerous. Most credible studies point to it being dangerous at low levels. The biggest baby bottle producers love this shit- it allows them to thin the plastic out without losing strength- ergo, less material, same result. Notice, none of the biggest producers- Phillips Avent comes to mind- will even acknowledge they use it on their websites, etc. Trying to decide, I even contacted them and Playtex regarding their bottles to fairly see what they had to say. Neither company would even call/ email/ contact me back. But we’re gonna trust the FDA on this one?

    This is the global warming of baby bottles- everyone knows it’s bad, but Bush says it’s good, so everyone else is just an alarmist who doesn’t want anyone to make any money.

  25. ageshin says:

    Bush’s FDA is in the hands of the big corporations. They have made the selecting or ignoring thier own scientific staff an artform. I would be willing to bet that their opinion came straight out of the offices of the big plastic companies.

  26. Claystil says:

    @rellog: slow down, partner. don’t go assuming what i do and don’t listen to or read. besides, like every major media source, NPR flat out sucks at reporting actual science. they’re not as bad as the NY times or fox news, but they suck. so it seems its you that needs a change of sources.

    i’ve read countless academic papers on the subject. some industry backed, some not. yes, that’s right some of the industry backed science comes straight from top research programs. anyway, the research shows time and time again that BPA is bad for you, but that you get more of it in your system from simply living in a developed world than you ever could from drinking out of a nalgene or using #7 plastics. if you need sources, do the research yourself. sorry it won’t be spoon fed to you by the folks at NPR, but it’s relatively easy to find. in the meantime, check your paranoia – there are much nastier things out there than BPA, and don’t let your babies feed from bottles made with polycarbonate.

  27. Claystil says:

    oh yeah, and rellog, stop boiling your nalgenes.

  28. thelushie says:

    @Claystil: No, actually I would say that NPR is just as bad as your cited media outlets. I listen to it once in awhile for the comic value.

  29. hipersons says:

    i can only imagine how many toys and other things I touched as a kid had horrible horrible chemicals on them, and I turned out just fine…

    think about it.

  30. Angryrider says:

    What the hell? Think about the children?
    First we were all concerned about the lead in children’s toys in which the paint had to be ground into a fine powder in order to be poisonous, and now our government agencies are turning a blind eye to bisphenol?

  31. FLConsumer says:

    If anyone needed confirmation that the FDA wasn’t going to keep you safe… here’s your sign.

    How many new drugs have been found to be harmful in the past few years after the FDA had given them their blessing?

    Bad, bad, bad…

    and besides… Babies need BREASTS, not bottles! All of this formula crap didn’t exist for the past 2,000+ years and babies ended up healthy and happy and parents could feed their babies on the cheap, guilt-free.

  32. platoreborn says:

    “Critics of the anti-BPA movement point out that the human studies rely on super high dosages that never occur in real life…”

    But how long until there is super high dosages occurring in real life? As plastics breakdown they leech BPA into the water. If we continue to throw away plastic at the rate we do, this will be an issue for everybody.

  33. Caslonbold says:

    James Hansen was on Charlie Rose this week talking about how all government scientists, agencies and their findings are censored by the White House before any of the information is released. Anything this administration does not like they edit out. Must be the plastics lobby is more important than the health of US citizens. Listen to the interview (which also has interesting info about energy sources):
    [www.charlierose.com]

  34. boxjockey68 says:

    @SigmundTheSeaMonster: HA! You’re spot on!

  35. JustaConsumer says:

    If you believe anything the FDA says, good luck. The neocons have destroyed it and your safety hangs in the balance.

  36. youbastid says:

    @hipersons: Nobody is saying that, safe or not, anyone who comes into contact with BPA is going to die a slow, painful death. Not everyone who drinks alcohol dies of cirrhosis, but it certainly increases your chances.

  37. SharkD says:

    @GamblesAC2: Really!? You want to admit that you get your “news” from a moron like Glen Beck?!?

    I’m still impressed that the man hasn’t suffocated from failing to remember to breathe on a regular basis.

  38. Claystil says:

    @youbastid: i promise you you have an enormous amount of BPA in your body RIGHT NOW. are you dying a slow and painful death? No. The simple fact is that BPA is already in the bodies of nearly everyone who lives in a developed nation and at HIGH levels, which means you’ve come into contact with it very recently since its half life is a mere few hours.

  39. fuzzball21 says:

    @timmus:
    I agree, the FDA is broken, and it’s time to can them!

  40. bohemian says:

    I trust the regulating bodies in Canada and the EU before I trust the FDA. They are just a PR shop for various industries at this point.

    If I could find water bottles that are BPA free that are that mushy opaque plastic I would buy them in a heartbeat and would be willing to pay quite a bit more for them. I wish more of the larger retailers would carry stainless steel water bottles as an option.

  41. bohemian says:

    that are NOT that mushy opaque plastic

  42. TVarmy says:

    @FLConsumer: With the synthetic estrogen BPA becomes in the body, babies will now have both.

  43. arcticJKL says:

    Thank you for the responses.
    I will look up the Lyndsey Layton if anyone else has some info or links I would appreciate them.

  44. TVarmy says:

    @Michael Belisle: Thank God. I was worried there for a second. I drink like, 6 shots of espresso a day from that thing.

  45. TVarmy says:

    @Michael Belisle: PS: Plus, coffee is an adult drink, meaning even the trace amounts of BPA won’t reach the kids. Whoever feeds their baby formula macchiatos is mother of the year in my book.

  46. Justifan says:

    thats too bad, so nothings going to force walmart to sell non bisphenol-a water bottles:(
    and they were a good source of those things for a reasonable price! back when nalgene bisphenol-a type bottles were going for 10 bucks not including the water sipper thing you could get the same bottle in another brand at walmart for 2.50! you still can, but i guess we aren’t going to get bisphenol-a free bottles at walmart ever at this rate.

    • Justifan says:

      @Justifan:
      i was wrong.

      bpa free bottles confirmed in cali walmart. i got one of those $2.88 .5L frosted water bottles. my previous model was the regular bpa containing plastic. the new one has a frosted look that marrs more easily than the old plastic but is bpa free on the label:)

      good on walmart! cheap bpa free bottles!

  47. Not Alvis says:

    God, FINALLY! I’ve been telling all these Everything-Polycarbonate-Is-Poison nazis that they’re crazy for months!

    Not only is there next to zero BPA leaching out of PC (polymers just DON’T depolymerize spontaneously), but it’s harmless to boot.

    Another case of overblown FUD.

  48. lincolnparadox says:

    The amount of BPA that had an effect on the endocrine system in rats was between 0.00004% and 0.003% of the rats total body weight. The current FDA standard allows BPA exposure levels in humans to reach around 0.005% for daily exposure.

    Now, I’m willing to play Russian Roulette with my endocrine system: I’m done breeding and if my prostate swells, well, that just gives me more bathroom time. But, just to be safe, I think that I’ll keep BPA plastics away from my kids. At least until they’re done developing.

    If anyone cares, here’s a fun article to peruse:

    [dx.doi.org]

    I can find about a dozen more, all from peer-reviewed journals. If the FDA wants to publish their studies for peer review, I’ll look them over.

    This is why no one trusts the government anymore. The bottom line is, BPA-containing plastics are safe, so long as you don’t boil them. Kids are more prone to the effects of hormones, BPA is a hormone-mimic, protect your kids.

    end of line

  49. Jubes says:

    As someone working in the bottled water business, its nice to see that some people do their homework and read studies about BPA on their own time instead of listening to what the media sensationalizes. Basically, for someone to reach the safety limit of BPA in their system, a person would have to drink 5 18.9L bottles of water per day, for the rest of their lives. Drinking that much water would kill you before the BPA did anything.

    As per the baby bottles: In Canada the gov’t was concerned about the usage of bottles containing BPA because they are constantly being heated. When the bottles are heated they expand and cause chemicals to leech. Studies have shown that after 10-15 times of a bottle being heated, it will stop leeching. The amount of BPA leeched has still not been able to be determined. I understand the concern about the baby bottles and do recommend using alternatives, but also think of everything else that has BPA in it. Saran wrap, plastic utensils and cups, Gladware and all the disposable storage containers, thats just what I can think of right now. BPA is the chemical that hardens plastic. It is NOT only in #7 bottles, the number system is only a form of classification. The bottles that are single use are worse that the polycarbonate ones. Unless you are going full organic then you might as well complain about the hormones and chemicals in the food we eat and drink as well as what we use to eat/drink from.

  50. pollyannacowgirl says:

    First of all, I don’t trust the FDA.

    My personal theory is that the human body is pretty capable of dealing with toxins. To a point, if you’re not overloading your system with junk. So, while I don’t eat McDonald’s or consume aspartame on a daily basis, I don’t worry when I eat it a few times a year. I do my best to buy organic meats and produce and steer clear of GMOs, etc.

    But there ARE people who microwave soy baby formula in plastic bottles and then feed their kids McDonalds for lunch every day and give them diet soda to wash it all down. Those kids are the ones who are going to have BIG health problems down the road. Obesity and diabetes are the least of it.

  51. SayAhh says:

    No wonder Bush couldn’t find the WMDs in Iraq: it [BPA] is in their baby bottles!

    /sarcasm about Bush, Iraq and WMD, not about BPA, which is as serious as lead in paint.

  52. TVarmy says:

    @pollyannacowgirl: They have the same idea in the book Cradle to Cradle, a book on green design written by an architect and a chemist. They say that even though we don’t ever hear about people getting sick from a particular chemical, they do increase our risk of disease, especially when we are surrounded by a lot of them. They compare our immune system to a juggler, who has to take care of another ball every time the body has to manage another toxin. Should said juggler drop a ball, you get sick. And of course, an infant juggler isn’t as good as a grownup juggler.

  53. GamblesAC2 says:

    @sharkd: oouch! whats with the Glenn Beck hate? Is it beacuse hes a republican? beacuse i’ll have you know not all republicans are as stupid as Dubbya.

  54. TangDrinker says:

    @bohemian: I found Oggi Aluminum (with ceramic liners) bottles at TJ Maxx/Homegoods stores. I picked one up for less than $7.00 and it’s been working great. $20 cheaper than Sigg and no wait lists!

  55. TVarmy says:

    @GamblesAC2: I’d say it’s more that Glen Beck tends to sound stupid from what I’ve seen of him. He may be very smart when you get to know him, but from what I’ve seen, he’s smarmy and ignorant.

    Granted, I could see getting the same impression of Keith Oberman at first glance, too. I’m a traditional liberal, so I’m biased, but I’m willing to listen to other’s viewpoints. Send me some clips of Beck being smart and insightful, and I’ll rethink my opinion of him.

  56. crypticgeek says:

    I really loathe the media when it comes to this stuff. Since the very beginning of this controversy it’s easy to see the people screaming about this are either A) environmentalists looking to trash plastics because it’s part of their agenda or B) journalists looking for the next “This common household product could be killing you and your family, don’t miss this investigative report at 11!”

    The whole thing is just silly. I use a Sigg because, well, it is more environmentally friendly to use a reusable, recyclable metal container to drink out of. But I’m not gonna go around the house looking for plastics that may contain BPA because the threat it poses is blown out of proportion by paranoids, people with an agenda, and sensationalists.

    But please, I welcome a non biased study that says the actual measured trace amounts of BPA contained in normal water (I’m not gonna start drinking boiling water out of it, let’s keep the test realistic here) out of a drinking bottle manufactured using BPA actually increases my risk of some adverse health effect in some significant way.

  57. Con Seannery says:

    All of you people saying that the FDA needs to do its job, could it be that THEY ARE, and all of the hype off of the latest health scare might be WRONG, and that the studies saying it might be harmful if you consume a few kilograms of it a day might be dealing with unrealistic doses? THE HORRORS! YOUR BANDWAGON CAUSE MIGHT NOT BE 100% CORRECT AND THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS!

  58. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    This is very odd… 3-4 years ago I learned that BPA was dangerous… but it was shown to be most dangerous in trace amounts, not huge doses. The folks presenting the data said an outright ban was the best solution.

  59. mariospants says:

    Is there actually any substance that does not leach in water to some molecular extent, to which would – in large enough quantities – cause some kind of health risk?

    Next they’ll be telling us it’s SAFER to drink from BpA bottles because it kills bacteria.

  60. neilb says:

    It is a good idea to question the authorities on these issues (also: immunizations, war policies, farm/food policies, women/infant health care, etc). They are gray issues at first and second glance. We should consider comparable nations’ (e.g., Japan, W Europe, Canada) decisions. Everyone should be willing to admit that the USA has allowed offbase and irresponsible (but profitable in the short-term) decision-making and that it still does so.

    Bottom line: Other nations with similar quality-of-life have banned this stuff. We made sure that our kids’ bottles were made of good material and in England.

  61. Confuzius says:

    I find it funny to watch people sucking back cigarettes while drinking water out of a fancy stainless steel/aluminium bottle complain that the BPA in Nalgenes is bad for you

    STFU!!!

  62. ichimunki says:

    “Is there actually any substance that does not leach in water to some molecular extent, to which would – in large enough quantities – cause some kind of health risk?”

    Yes, it’s called glass. Glass is inert.

  63. SharkD says:

    @GamblesAC2: It has nothing to do with Glenn Beck’s party affiliation. (BTW, wasn’t there a time when, in order to be respected as a journalist, you were, by default, non-partisan?)

    It’s because he’s a reactionary moron.

    * The man accused a sitting member of Congress of being an enemy of the United States, solely on the basis of the Congressman’s religion.
    * He’s suggested using the corpses of illegal immigrants as an alternative fuel source, a la Birkenau.
    * And, he’s publicly advocated the murder of critics of the Bush Administration.

  64. carbonmade says:

    @FLConsumer: Yes, Breast Is Best, but breast-fed babies also use bottles. Mommies just pump the milk so Daddies can feed them too! (I feed our baby when the wife is shooting weddings–we don’t use formula).

  65. ichimunki says:

    @mariospants: Yes, it’s called glass. Glass is inert.

  66. Sanveann says:

    @carbonmade: Thanks for pointing that out! Many breastfeeding moms aren’t willing or able to stay home full time — or, god forbid, just want a night out away from their baby once in a while ;)

    And then there are those of us who pumped exclusively. My little guy stopped nursing at 2 months old for reasons no one (including a lactation consultant) could ever figure out, and I pumped for him for the next 10 months. That’s part of the reason the BPA thing freaks me out so much — his milk wasn’t just served in bottles containing BPA, it was also stored in them for days.

  67. liquiddamage says:

    If the FDA makes a special effort to calls it “safe” then it is indeed toxic.