This morning, the folks who produce NBC's Today show allowed me six seconds (out of a six-minute segment) to comment on an astoundingly alarmist and unscientific "report" on the alleged dangers of plastic water bottles.
The precise target of this junk-science assault was bisphenol A (BPA), a component of some types of polycarbonate plastic bottles. In fact, BPA is near-ubiquitous in our environment, and we all have tiny amounts of this (and many, many other) synthetic chemicals in our bodies. These trace amounts do not pose any health threat — but try telling that to those who want to scare us all into a tizzy with such (untrue) "science and health" stories. My brief appearance consisted of my advising viewers that "The toxic effects found on rats were done at thousands of times higher then we are exposed to in the environment." Dr. Elizabeth Whelan noted that "the segment was up there in the top three of the most biased TV reports I have ever seen." The show was probably 98% about the "dangers" of bisphenol A. In fact, as I have said, there is no threat at all to humans from plastic bottles, nor from the many other consumer products that contain BPA.
The host and the "experts" consulted, a toxicologist — or in other words an expert on rats — and doctor from Mt. Sinai whose career has been devoted to seeking toxic chemicals in every corner, went as far as they could to scare American consumers about these products — though they have been safely used by people of all ages over the past five decades. For some reason, the doctor-expert was wearing a suit and a stethoscope even while in the TV studio — perhaps planning to examine Matt Lauer after the show? He focused on the "leaching" of BPA and the "hormonal" disruption that will surely come from using plastic bottles. He noted several types that should "never be used — there is no safe level of exposure."
I must wonder, if these are so toxic, why has no one noted any human illness associated with them? This comment is clearly absurd. In sum, the Today show barely acknowledged the scientific side of the argument. It was clear they had no intention of taking a balanced approach to this story. Various environmental chemicals are now coming under attack by "environmental" groups and their friends in the media and the state legislatures. It is disappointing that a show as popular as Today has decided to jump on this bandwagon, while giving only lip service to educating their viewers about science.
See also: ACSH's full report on The Facts About Bisphenol A.