Enough Already! The U.S. Should Ban BPA Now
I often write about preventive health care — taking steps to stop disease before it happens, rather than waiting for symptoms to appear to react. Individual lifestyle choices play a major role in preventive health care, but there are also factors that we must work to address collectively as a society.
It’s become crystal clear in recent years that environmental toxins are jeopardizing not only our health right now, but our long-term health as well. Worse yet, the people most impacted by environmental toxins are infants and children, whose young bodies are most vulnerable to toxicity and who are powerless to protect themselves. In fact, a government advisory panel affiliated with NIH recently concluded that Americans are facing “grievous harm” from unregulated toxic chemicals.
BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical on my list of “must ban right now” toxins that has received a lot of attention recently. The scientific evidence showing that BPA is a disaster for human health keeps piling up. How much of a disaster is it? Well, our neighbor to the North, Canada, recently banned BPA, classifying it as a dangerous toxin. In addition, the European Union banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, and is moving towards banning it completely. Many other countries are doing the same.
The U.S. government is playing dumb on the issue, saying that “more studies are needed.” Despite the numerous existing scientific studies showing that BPA is dangerous, despite the fact that most other industrialized nations have banned it or are moving towards banning it, and despite its own health report showing that toxins are harming the health of Americans, the U.S. government has refused to budge on the issue. This is mainly because of strong lobbying efforts by the plastics industry, and is sadly yet another example of special interests being put before the health of American citizens. The plastics industry’s main argument is that there are no economically viable alternatives to BPA. But it’s hard for me to believe that the country that put the first man on the moon over 50 years ago can’t figure this one out. Afterall, we did all get by somehow before BPA.
You’ve probably heard about the latest “smoking gun” in the case against BPA, which broke in the news earlier this week. A new study has concluded that children exposed to BPA in the womb are more likely to have behavioral problems. This adds to numerous other studies that conclude BPA can cause neurological and other health problems and goes back to my point about prevention. Think about these kids as they grow up. Will they need counseling? Will they be put on pharmaceutical drugs to “help” them behave? Shouldn’t we take immediate action try to stop the problem before it starts?
You may think that you do a pretty good job of keeping BPA out of your system, but think again. These common objects (and others) frequently contain BPA:
- The lining of canned foods
- Plastic and some aluminum water bottles (stainless steel is generally safe)
- Canned soda and beer
- Plastic food storage containers
- Some baby bottles and pacifiers
- Most cash register receipts
- Most type 3 and 7 plastics
Here’s an informative video I found that shows how susceptible kids are to the BPA found in canned foods marketed specifically to them:
The bottom line is, if BPA was banned tomorrow, this country would be a safer and healthier, and most — if not all — people (except perhaps chemical company executives) wouldn’t miss it one bit. Banning BPA is the only right thing to do for the safety of our children. How can we get this done? One way is to write your representatives and demand that they take action. However don’t hold your breath for Congress to act anytime soon. Perhaps the best thing you can do is to speak with your dollars. Avoid all types of BPA products, and let consumer demand force companies to get BPA out of their products.
Article updated on: October 28th, 2011