The latest chemophobic scare has centered on bisphenol-A (BPA), a component of strong, shatter-resistant plastic bottles. BPA has been in common use--one might call it ubiquitous--for several decades now, and no human being has ever been harmed by exposure to it. This doesn't matter to the panel members of the National Toxicology Program's Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), who released a draft report yesterday announcing their "concern" that exposure to BPA might affect fetuses and infants adversely.
So what's the evidence behind this alarming statement--which has already provoked moms around the nation to seek and destroy (or at least, discard) baby bottles? As is the norm with these enviros masquerading as experts in human health, their information comes from rat experiments. They extrapolate high-dose rodent toxicity tests to apply to human risk assessment--despite the known fact that such data cannot be applied to humans. Even the EPA has accepted that--but not the concerned panelists of the CERHR.
What's the true story here? There is no "there" there. The evidence is a miasma of allegations and insinuations, with the paltry evidence emanating mainly from one or two researchers whose entire careers have been built on finding some link between BPA and health. The more one searches through the hundred-page-plus report, the more it's apparent that the "experts" in rat toxicology had pre-determined the end result, based on absolutely no evidence of human health risk from typical BPA exposures.
I can't sum it up any better than a real expert quoted in the New York Times yesterday. Dr. Warren G. Foster, director of biology and the Centre for Reproductive Care at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, when asked about the potential for human effects of BPA: "If I was a fish and there was BPA in the water, I'd be concerned. If I was a fetus and my mother was using a plastic water bottle, I wouldn't be bothered."
Nevertheless, the scary headlines and TV segments warning us to run--not walk--to throw out our toxic plastic bottles goes on and on. Why? Because it's rare that a real expert in human health dares to challenge the received wisdom fomented by anti-chemical activists and their co-conspirators in the media and the plaintiffs' bar. Where are the mute scientists from the NIH and the NCI, the supposed experts in human health? Why is the field always left to the experts in rodent health?
Gilbert Ross, M.D., is Executive and Medical Director of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH.org, HealthFactsAndFears.com).
See also: ACSH's full report on bisphenol-A.