The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently banned Bisphenol A (BPA), a harmful chemical found in plastics and some metals (such as the lining of canned foods), from baby bottles and sippy cups. The hormone-enhancing chemical has been linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, obesity, and damage to the reproductive organs, and is emerging as a public health risk. Studies found BPA in 80 percent of people’s bodies and in 96 percent of pregnant women. As a result, some companies are taking notice of public demand and concern for eliminating this chemical from food packaging by manufacturing BPA-free items, but many people feel that the FDA needs to tighten its regulations and completely ban the chemical from the food industry.
BPA presents an especially high risk to fetuses, babies, and young children, whose BPA intake is highest and whose developing bodies are more likely to suffer damage from toxic chemicals. Scientists have expressed concern about the effects of BPA on fetuses’ brain development, and have noted that BPA may cause earlier puberty in children. Tests conducted on several brands of canned food showed that almost all of the products contained BPA, presenting consumers with a very high risk of exposure to the chemical.
Although BPA has been used for more than four decades without serious health implications, new research suggests that there is cause for concern regarding the safety of this chemical. Additional research is needed to confirm the severity of this chemical’s health risks, but health officials now recommend that people, especially parents with babies, stop using plastics that contain BPA. Parents are encouraged to stop using old baby bottles, especially ones that are scratched or used, as these are more likely to leach BPA into food and infant formula. Parents who are still using bottles that contain BPA are encouraged not to heat or boil the infant formula, as heat facilitates the release of BPA.
Canada and the European Union have joined the United States in banning BPA from baby bottles, and Canada has determined it to be a toxic substance. Congress has pushed for legislation banning BPA, but it has not passed. Earlier this year, the FDA decided not to ban BPA from all food and beverage containers, saying that it needed to conduct broader and more thorough research on how severely it can affect public health.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has noted that plastics marked with recycling numbers 1 through 6 usually do not contain BPA, but plastics marked as number 7 can contain the chemical.
“Protecting my kids doesn’t stop when they graduate from bottles and sippy cups. I am counting on the FDA to help regulate this dangerous chemical so the people I care about most in the world are safe — no matter how old they are,” says Change.org petition writer Susan Beal. “BPA isn’t just found in baby products — routine tests have found BPA in more than 80% of Americans’ bodies.”
While previous petitions to the FDA by organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have been unsuccessful, Beal’s previous petition on Change.org mobilized people in her hometown in Oregon to take action and ban BPA; the successful petition led to legislation banning products for children that contain BPA from being sold in her local community. She is hoping that her current petition to the FDA will elicit similar results.
To support Beal’s newest endeavor and join the growing public movement to completely eliminate BPA from food packaging, sign her petition at Change.org and share it with your friends and family.
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/iskir/4433695947/