The Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2013, introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass), would ban BPA (Bisphenol A) in food packaging and reusable food containers.
Scientists consider BPA to be an “endocrine-disrupting compound” because the body responds to it like estrogen. Multiple studies link BPA to precocious puberty, neurodevelopmental problems, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, results from animal testing raise concerns about BPA’s contribution to breast cancer. And almost all US citizens—93 percent—show traces of this chemical in their bodies.
Manufacturers produce about six billion pounds of BPA every year for certain plastics for food containers and resins that line them. The chemical goes into items like water bottles, medical devices, receipts, plastic tableware and food storage containers. BPA resins line food cans, dental sealants, bottle tops and some water pipes.
A new study on PLoSOne.org adds further evidence to the ever-growing body of data that suggest BPA exposure increases the risk for developing obesity. Given this country’s epidemic of obesity and its role in contributing to some of our most pressing health problems—heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer—a study like this has significant implications. Lifestyle modifications are still the primary interventions for obesity, but if environmental pollutants in consumer products add to the problem, more studies and stricter regulation deserve consideration.
The primary source of exposure to BPA is through our diet because it leaches from what’s “holding” our food and drinks. Mothers can pass BPA to babies through breast milk. A number of states have banned the use of BPA, most commonly in baby products. The FDA recently banned BPA from baby bottles. Safer, cost-effective BPA substitutes are available. Passage of legislation to ban BPA would be a good first step toward establishing a national public health policy to reduce our exposure to it.