Confirmed: BPA Will Harm Your Monkey

The bisphenol-A (BPA) saga continues, this time with a study that tried to replicate the ongoing environmental exposure to BPA that the average American faces, only with monkeys instead of rodents. The Washington Post reports:

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have linked [BPA] to problems with brain function and mood disorders in monkeys—the first time the chemical has been connected to health problems in primates.

Last month, the FDA declared BPA safe enough to keep using in manufacturing, but yesterday another federal group reignited the issue:

The National Toxicology Program, a federal interagency initiative, released a final report saying it has “some concern” that BPA is linked to health and developmental problems in humans. Of the NTP’s five categories of concern, “some” would rate a three, or the middle of the dial between the extremes of negligible and serious.

The report doesn’t call for a ban, but suggests more research is needed. And here we go: this new study on monkeys seems to add more evidence to the argument that BPA may have negative consequences on humans.

The FDA will hold a public meeting on September 16th to discuss the matter some more, with academics and industry reps in attendance.

“Chemical in Plastic Is Connected to Health Problems in Monkeys”
(Photo: mape_s)

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  1. stevejust says:

    Oh c’mon. Here’s the facts: Theo Colburn presented the problems associated with bisphenol-A (BPA) and other endocrine disrupters in a popular and readable book: “Our Stolen Future.” It was published in 1996 and was supposed to get regulators and congress interest in the problem. And it did. For about two seconds.

    That it’s 12 years later and BPA’s safety is still being “debated” is ridiculous. For fully grown adults, you know, probably not as big a deal as some other toxins we’re exposed to daily. But if I were trying to get someone pregnant or if I had a young child, I’d be taking this study very seriously.

    [www.ourstolenfuture.org]

  2. rpm773 says:

    C’mon, Consumerist! I just sat down to enjoy my usual Thursday night feast of Beefaroni straight from the can!

  3. ThickSkinned says:

    To me the BPA scare is on par with fluoridated water warnings. BPA has been used for 50 years. Water has been fluoridated for 60 years. If these uses are so dangerous, where are the hordes of people who are suffering the effects? Shouldn’t we all be mutated beyond recognition by now?

    • stevejust says:

      @ThickSkinned: Umm… no. The BPA “scare” isn’t on part with fluoridated water at all. And so if it’s been around for a while, are you saying there’s nothing to worry about? Good. Because I thought the data showed a different story:

      • ARP says:

        @stevejust: I don’t think we can blame BPA alone. I don’t think you’re implying that either. The problem is that we have so many toxins in our environment- food, bottles, can liners, air, water, etc. No single household “toxin” in small doses is going to cause problems as our bodies can absorb it. But when you combine them over a prolonged period, its can’t be good.

        Of course,the problem is that to try and study/prove the causation this would be almost impossible as you’d have to track the dosages of dozens of toxins at once. And so each toxin is shown be “safe” without considering the combined effects of numerous substances. I’m not suggesting that poeople go completely natural, but where there are relatively simple steps you can take to reduce/prevent ingesting “questionable” substances, why not do it?

        • queenofdenial says:

          @ARP: I agree. I’m a big worrywart, so I worry about this. Have I altered my lifestyl drastically? No. But I try to remain informed and change my purchasing habits accordingly. Of course, when I think I am overreacting, I imagine how my grandparents felt when they first heard about this whole cigarettes being unhealthy thing. Did they believe it at first? No. Did they eventually quit smoking? Yes. Same with the use of lead paint and asbestos. But probably too much of anything will screw up our bodies and cause cancer.

      • Parapraxis says:

        @stevejust:

        people are living longer, you know.

        I want to see that graph take into account aging and other factors.

        Simply saying “cancer goes up” when fluoridated water was introduced does not indicate causation.

        Maybe you should read this first before you start spouting off charts:

        [news.bbc.co.uk]

        • stevejust says:

          @Parapraxis: you have terrible reading comprehension. I never said anything about fluoride in water except to say BPA is actually a threat and fluoride probably not so much.

          And it’s undeniably true that as people started living longer, cancer rates go up concomitantly. No question. But before you lecture me on things you don’t seem to know much about, why don’t you try comparing some actuarial life expectancy tables to the chart depicting the rise in cancer rates, and then get back to me. What you’ll see is the rates in cancer have accelerated far more than the paltry difference in average age of death has over the last 35 or so years depicted in that chart. So the cancer rate is, in fact, increasing. (Until it leveled off relatively recently.)

          • stevejust says:

            @stevejust: P.S., as for your link which is a long way of saying what any scientist knows, i.e., correlation does not equal causation, I invite you to find the post here on consumerist I made about this very phenomenon when I was saying that 100% of the time we’ve had a Bush in the Whitehouse, 100% of the time we’ve faced a real estate bubble burst and a collapse of the financial institutions that were depending on that bubble.

            With Bush Sr. it was the Savings and Loans, with Jr. it’s Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the conventional banks backed by the FDIC.

          • Claystil says:

            @stevejust: The burden of proof is as much in your court, as older people have and always will be more likely to develop cancer. It follows then that people being older for longer = higher rates of cancer, no?

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @stevejust: Yeah? Well…I have fancy charts too:

        @the-perfect-face-for-radio:
        Just talked to your girlfriend..she said you were correct the first time, it’s a rodent, not a monkey. Sorry, had to!

        • stevejust says:

          @RedwoodFlyer: I’ve already covered the correlation does not equal causation argument. And as an endocrine disruptor, cancer wouldn’t necessarily be the end point I’d look at anyway. I’d look at other endpoints, such as oh, I don’t know… early teen menstruation. (Oh, what do you know, it’s gone through the roof.) I just pointed out that people are walking around like there’s nothing out there that’s different than 50 years ago, and it’s because they don’t know how to look at all the things that have changed.

          Here’s a perfect factoid for the nay-sayers. The Republicans were giving away BPA-free water bottles at the convention. I’m so sick and tired of people not putting their money where there mouth is. If BPA is okay, let them drink BPA.

          Link or it didn’t happen:
          [www.greendaily.com]

          • Claystil says:

            @stevejust: Drink all the water you want from BPA free bottles, but that water still probably contains BPA.

            • stevejust says:

              @Claystil: I read my water quality assurance reports every year. And I filter my water the GAC. There is never any BPA in the water I drink at home.

              There’s never any atrazine, or TCP, or radon, or PCE, or Perc, or arsenic, or MTBE, or Dursban, or Sevin, or TTHMs like choloroform, or any orgnophosphates, carbamates, neonicitinoids, PFOA, heavy metals or other VOCs because I take this stuff seriously.

  4. British Benzene says:

    Um, BPA (and other endocrine disruptors) connected to feminization of males, including decreased gyno-anal distance. Is that a recognizable mutation? Yes.

    The more you know.

  5. Claystil says:

    This is the best BPA post yet. It highlights that more research is needed. To deny at this point that BPA can cause problems is silly, but there is a huge need for more research on the specifics of its effects on humans.

    • ARP says:

      @Claystil: Yes, but at what point do you say enough research is enough? It’s difficult to get to 100% certainity and there will always be the scientist paid by the plastics counsel that says it’s safe. So you have 90% of the science world saying its bad and the 10% who are either paid for their result or have an agenda. This 10% lets the journalists say “there’s still questions,” when there really aren’t. BTW- Sound familiar on other issues? Remember, ciggies are still not bad for you according to some of the tobacco companies. I don’t mean to associate you with a political party, but saying “let’s do nothing and study more” is a common tactic thats used to stall. Combine that with paid shill’s and people get hurt while we debate. I also don’t want to be an alarmist where we yank products at the first sign of bad test. But when other countries are banning it and the science is looking more and more like its bad, maybe we should at least put people on notice there may be a problem. No ban (yet), but notice there may be a problem.

      • Claystil says:

        @ARP: Though I think you’re using a bit of hyperbole, I do agree it’s tough to draw the “enough is enough” line.

        I just think it would be great if there was more research showing what BPA did to humans at different levels of exposure.

        Also, other countries are banning it largely because of alarmists from what I’ve read. Anyway, most BPA exposure seems to be environmental and not from the use of consumer products, so the nations taking BPA off consumer shelves are barely making a dent in the overall BPA problem and barely changing the exposure levels of their citizens.

        Besides, BPA has unique properties among polymers. Have you ever dropped a Nalgene?

        I’ve read much of the research and I’m a fairly smart guy, but I’m still not convinced drinking from BPA bottles and eating from BPA lined cans is really having any impact on my life. I get the feeling most of the scientists doing the research feel the same way.

        • euleria says:

          @Claystil: I just think it would be great if there was more research showing what BPA did to humans at different levels of exposure.

          I sure hope I get placed in the placebo group for THAT experiment.

          • Claystil says:

            @euleria: hah.

            @stevejust: if i remember correctly, GAC removes only about 40% of BPA from water. I know it’s not more than 50%. I think the membrane type filters are more effective against BPA.

  6. mannyv says:

    Remember:

    Lead? Dangerous? We’ve been using these pipes for hundreds of years with no problems! I guarantee they’re safe! Every Caesar and Senator has used nothing but since the early Republic! If it’s good enough for the Caesar and the Consuls, it’s good enough for you!

    - unknown Roman plumber, 150 AD

  7. mannyv says:

    Seriously, it’s been in use since the 1950s. How has human behavior changed since then? Have you noticed that people’s “memory, learning and mood” are different now than they were in the mid-50s?

    Maybe we can blame BPA for the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.

  8. the-perfect-face-for-radio says:

    i’m a little embarrassed to tell you how many years i had it wrong, but finally a good soul told me i should be spanking my monkey instead of my rodent.

  9. cerbie says:

    The FDA is making decisions not in the public interest, and someone else saying more should be done? Never saw that coming.