Cancer Fears Prompt Retailer To Pull Nalgene Bottles

Canada’s premier sporting goods store has pulled Nalgene bottles from their shelves over concerns that bottles are made with a cancer-causing chemical. The Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op is waiting for the outcome of a study from Health Canada on the health effects of bisphenol-a (B.P.A.) before returning the ubiquitous bottles to shelves.

Polycarbonate plastic, which can only be produced by using B.P.A., creates bottles that are transparent and almost as hard as glass, but particularly shatter-resistant.

Recently, however, the use of B.P.A.-based plastics in food containers has questioned in Canada by Environmental Defence , a Toronto-based group. Environmentalists in the United States are also raising concerns about the chemical.

Last year, San Francisco’s board of governors passed a local law banning the use of the chemical in children’s products. B.P.A. was removed from the ordinance before it went into effect, however, after an industry lawsuit.

Critics point to studies dating back to 1936 showing that the chemical can disrupt the hormonal system.

While there is little dispute about that, the plastics industry, supported by several studies from government agencies in Japan, North America and Europe, contends that polycarbonate bottles contain very little of the chemical and release only insignificant amounts of B.P.A. into the bodies of users.

Health Canada expects preliminary results from its study in May 2008.

Canadian Retailer Bans Some Plastic Bottles [NYT]