This is an issue we’ve been writing about for years here at Non-Toxic Kids. Just what do we know about the replacement chemicals for BPA? Nothing. Why is that? Because we have a whack a mole process for regulating chemical safety in this country. Over 80,000 chemicals are allowed in products– without safety testing– and then when one is found from years of studies to be unsafe, and the public demands it, that chemical is phased out. A new chemical is quickly used, which is equally untested (a new mole!). We learn that one is harmful and try to whack it down. Is anyone else tired of playing chemical whack a mole?
We need policies that stop this madness. No more chemical whack a mole. All products and chemicals should be proven safe before they are sold and used on our kids. That’s why we need real toxics reform, not the latest half measure introduced by the House.
Back to BPA free plastics. These have a way of sneaking into kitchens. Old Nalgenes. Gifts from well meaning family members. Die hard favorite cups, like mentioned in this article. We environmental health writers had a big hunch that BPA free plastics were going to end up being harmful. That is why we advocate for using glass and stainless steel.
What’s particularly disturbing is that a study written about in Environmental Health Perspectives found that some BPA free plastics can have even more hormone disturbing effects than BPA!
“According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.”
Just last night I hosted MomsRising’s weekly tweet chat called #EcoTipTue with Environmental Working Group. The topic? Hormone altering chemicals. According to EWG, Endocrine disruptors are compounds that can interfere with the way our hormones work– and hormones control fetal development, puberty, and metabolism. Chemicals that interfere with these processes may be risky. Hormone disruption has been linked to early puberty, heart disease, cancer, reproductive problems, obesity, and interference with cancer treatments. According to the Mother Jones article, the list is even longer:
“Scientists have tied BPA to ailments including asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, genital deformity, heart disease, liver problems, and ADHD. “Pick a disease, literally pick a disease,” says Frederick vom Saal, a biology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia who studies BPA.”
While the news that BPA free plastics is not surprising, the rest of the article that describes the dirty politics and big Tobacco strategies of the chemical industry to slow research, confuse the public, and risk public health for financial gain is astounding. From the Bush administration, to industry funded scientists, and the big Tobacco PR firm, this has been a shady operation to derail any protection of public health, similar to the tactics used to dispel the health consequences of second hand smoke.
And here’s what happens when you play chemical whack a mole. Companies become indifferent. They don’t need to test until someone else sounds the alarm. Why would they? It will only cost them money. According to the article:
“Their position was: Until consumers are demanding nonestrogenic products, there’s no reason to be an early adopter,” Usey explains. “They want to delay as long as they can, because they know any transition will cost them.” In some cases, manufacturers paid for testing, then never collected the findings. “They didn’t want to know the results because there’s liability in knowing,” Usey says. “They’re right in the sense that you don’t want to know if you’re not going to fix the problem.”
These kinds of scenarios will play themselves out over and over again, effecting generation after generation, until legislation puts a stop to it. If you think you can avoid estrogenic chemicals like those found in BPA, or its replacement think again. Hormone disrupting chemicals are found in food packaging, Whole Food’s bulk bins, canned foods, and in receipts.
What are your thoughts on the article, on BPA and BPA free plastics? I’d love to hear from you. Please spread this post far and wide to friends and family who may be using BPA free plastics– and let’s stop the chemical whack a mole to finally protect public health.
image: by Eric.Parker on Flickr under CC