More BPA trash talk

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Not even three weeks after the FDA denied a petition to ban the plastic hardener BPA (bisphenol A) from food packaging, declaring that the daily levels of human exposure pose no health risk, backlash has appeared in The Washington Post. Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, has written a lengthy article decrying BPA and phthalates, a class of chemicals used to increase the flexibility and durability of plastics.

In her alarmist, multi-columned declamation against these and other everyday chemicals, Freinkel leans on a study published last year in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It s an odd choice, because the study proves only that 20 participants levels of BPA and phthalates dropped after a three-day diet of food that hadn t been packaged in plastic. As ACSH s Lana Spivak notes, such a finding doesn t indicate that the initial levels were harmful. The levels of BPA measured in participants' urine prior to the initiation of the study were still over 1,000 times lower than even the precautionary federal limits, as set by the FDA, she points out. It s also curious that Freinkel doesn t acknowledge the large body of recent researchdemonstrating that levels of phthalates and BPA in human blood and urine are often beyond detection and pose no threat. These are the studies the FDA relied on to reach its current position on BPA.

We re very disappointed in The Washington Post for publishing Freinkel s uncalled for, alarmist piece, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. BPA is among the most studied chemicals in the world, and our own government recently gave it a clean bill of health. She accuses the FDA of ignoring the emerging science on low doses of chemicals but this so-called science has been emerging for a long time now and it has not attained scientific credibility. No evidence of actual harm to humans has been documented despite all the chemophobic hysteria such as this pseudo-scientific article.

ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava adds that it should be reassuring that the Environmental Health Perspectives study showed that levels of BPA in blood and urine dropped substantially after only a few days. This indication that the body is efficient at metabolizing BPA, meaning it doesn t remain in the body for long periods, is ignored by Freinkel in her attack essay, notes Dr. Kava.

For a more comprehensive perspective, we recommend our paper on the topic: Are Low Dose Health Effects of Chemicals Real?