Scientists Caution about the Dangers of Plastic

Even small quantities of the chemical, BPA, which is used to make hard plastic is capable of affecting the development of breast, mammary glands, testicles and brain development in animals among other things.

 Scientists Caution about the Dangers of Plastic

Every American, to some degree or another, has a chemical compound of plastic in one's body. Sometimes the levels are as high as those that when tested on mice and rats in laboratories were found to be capable of causing cancer, diabetes and reproductive and genital abnormalities.

This compound is one of the highest-volume chemicals in the world and goes under the name of bisphenol (BPA).

Over 6,000,000,000 lbs. of the chemical are used each year in the manufacture of food cans, soft drinks, large water-cooler containers, plastic containers, microwave-oven dishes , unbreakable baby bottles, CDs and dental fillings among other things. Coca-Cola, for example, admitted that the chemical is used in the making of its soft drink cans but disagreed to the accusation that this posed a risk to consumers.

On Thursday a panel of 38 BPA research scientists from the U.S., Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom, Spain and Japan, four being from federal health agencies, revealed online in the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology, that even small quantities of the chemical, BPA, which is used to make hard plastic is capable of affecting the development of breast, mammary glands, testicles and brain development in animals among other things. In 1006 the scientists had attended a government-financed conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., for the purpose of reviewing about 700 studies regarding BPA research.

In its conclusion the report remarked, "The wide range of adverse effects of low doses of BPA in laboratory animals exposed both during development and adulthood is great cause for concern with regard to potential similar adverse effects in humans."

Such damage is most likely, the scientists feel, to initiate reproductive diseases such as endometriosis, cancers and fibroids in women. Even though earlier studies had found instances of decreased sperm counts and early-stage breast and prostate cancer in animals exposed to low doses, this was the first time BPA has been linked to female reproductive-tract disorders.

Five other new scientific reviews also published in Reproductive Toxicology provided more evidence of the possibility of the chemical posing a health threat to humans, one of them a report of a new study about uterine damage in newborn animals exposed to BPA by researchers from the National Institutes of Health.

In January, Europe's food safety agency, considered these findings open to doubt because of the metabolic differences between people and mice and because it had not been ascertained that the quantities to which people were exposed were health or life threatening. Up to now no studies had been made about its effects on people.

However, on the following day, Thursday, the plastics industry criticized the scientists, pointing out that their deductions were established on unreliable sources.

From the American Chemistry Council's polycarbonate/BPA group Steve Hentges remarked that many of the scientists involved had conflicts of interest as they had either studied BPA or reported effects or "already taken a very clear advocacy position…They are completely at odds with the findings of every governmental scientific body that has reviewed the same science," he stated.

Now, an expert NIH panel will meet to decide whether BPA should be categorized as a reproductive toxin or not. It must be remembered that the Los Angeles Times had reported in March that its preliminary BPA report was "written by a consulting firm with financial ties to the chemical industry that has since been fired."

Pat Fryer

Last Mod: 06 Ağustos 2007, 12:04
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