New York Times Says Don’t Worry About BPA Leaching From Polycarbonate Plastic – I Disagree

I’m more than a little annoyed at The New York Times.  Without elaborating on the first reason much, the NYT published just a dumb article about BlogHer ’08.  Then, the second reason I’m annoyed, the NYT publishes Tierney’s 10 Things to Scratch from Your Worry List, and includes bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic bottles.

Tierney contends that BPA in polycarbonate plastic bottles isn’t a problem.  Although he doesn’t specifically include plastic baby bottles, his comments necessarily include them:

For years panels of experts repeatedly approved the use of bisphenol-a, or BPA, which is used in polycarbonate bottles and many other plastic products. Yes, it could be harmful if given in huge doses to rodents, but so can the natural chemicals in countless foods we eat every day. Dose makes the poison.

But this year, after a campaign by a few researchers and activists, one federal panel expressed some concern about BPA in baby bottles. Panic ensued. Even though there was zero evidence of harm to humans,  Wal-Mart pulled BPA-containing products from its shelves, and politicians began talking about BPA bans. Some experts fear product recalls that could make this the most expensive health scare in history.

And it is just irritating, to say the least.  His summary ignores the countless animal studies that have associated low level BPA exposure to adverse health effects.  His summary also ignores that fetuses and babies – the group that the federal panel did indeed express “some concern” over (a 3 on the 5 point scale they use) – don’t have the necessary enzyme to process BPA – an enzyme a healthy adult has.  Although, I should point out, that the European Food Safety Authority recently issued its opinion that BPA is safe, and based its opinion in part on the conclusion that the mom would metabolize any BPA before it could be passed to the fetus.  His summary also ignores that BPA is found in the linings of all canned foods and beverages with very limited exceptions, including infant formula, so that a formula fed baby will get BPA from the baby bottle and the formula container.  (And, to be fair, I should also point out that perhaps he is including this in his analysis but it isn’t mentioned.)

Adiri Natural NurserSo the risk may be small in comparison to other risks.  That being said, and even with the opinion of the EFSA, for infant, is it a risk worth taking?  To me, with so many options available for BPA-free bottle, it seems like a silly risk to take.  When you consider that BPA was considered along with DES as a synthetic estrogen for problem pregnancies, it is probably a risk no parent wants to knowingly take.  We know that DES was chosen over BPA and declared safe for pregnant women . . . look where that got us. 

Okay, so perhaps Tierney is right.  We shouldn’t worry about because we know the solution – choose to avoid BPA containing polycarbonate plastic.  That’s the Adiri Natural Nurser in the photo – but there are lots of options for BPA-free baby bottles. 

My conclusion – Tierney can keep his old Nalgene bottle.  I’ll choose my Klean Kanteen.  And, by the way, TreeHugger debunks 4 more of his 10 things Tierney claims you don’t have to worry about.


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