Interview with Sarah Janssen of the NRDC about BPA and phthalate study

Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist on the public health team of the Natural Resources Defense Council, (and also an MD and a mom) recently wrote this post about the latest troubling study concerning BPA and phthalates in our food. It explains the study and provides some additional information. We asked her a few questions about the findings, her work,  and how concerned parents can take action for cleaner, healthier food.

Thanks for your important post about this study. It is VERY disheartening to hear this latest news. Many of us in the parenting community are choosing to buy organic foods, and follow suggestions to limit exposures, but our kids drink milk, eat cheese, and other foods that have been stored in plastic.

1. Can you explain what happened in this study, and why parents should be concerned?

This study fed participants a diet that was assumed to be low in chemical contaminants because it hadn’t come into contact with plastic during transportation, storage or preparation. All the food was fresh, local and when possible, organic. But surprisingly, the participants had an increase in their exposure to a chemical used as a plastic softening agent. That chemical is a phthalate, called DEHP. DEHP is a known hormone disrupting compound which has been linked to male birth defects, infertility, testicular cancer and other harmful effects.

The concern is that the conventional wisdom about what type of diet you should eat to reduce exposure to phthalates seems to be wrong. Even when doing the “right” thing, these participants had higher levels of exposure because the types of foods they were fed were contaminated with DEHP long before they were purchased for use in this study.

2. What are the implications for this new study on the parenting community?

Unfortunately, what was found in this study isn’t likely to be a unique situation. Most of us, even when we are eating “right” are still ingesting significant amounts of phthalates, including DEHP.

3. What can parents do to lessen their exposure, beyond the typical recommendations?

I think the best advice is the same advice. Eat a low fat diet. Eat low on the food chain – more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed food. Eat a variety of foods. That is what you can do in your daily life.

Then get mad, and demand that the FDA does a better job of regulating food additives. Tell your friends. Write a letter to your elected officials. Write a letter to your local grocery store or your favorite food brand and tell them you want food free of hormone disrupting chemicals.
Please support groups like NRDC who are working to improve the weak policy that has allowed this to happen in the first place.
We here at Non-Toxic Kids echo Sarah’s concerns and support the action steps suggested. What are your ideas?  Do you plan on taking action?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Join the Non-toxic Kids Monthly Newsletter

Non-Toxic Kids is your source for green parenting news and activism, reviews of eco-friendly products, books and music for children, and tips for more natural family living. Our mission is to help your children stay safe, healthy and smart.

  • Stay current on environmental issues affecting kids
  • Get must-have parenting from experienced moms
  • Learn how to choose healthier products
  • Join us in taking action to protect our children
  • Grab your FREE copy of The Chemicals in Us (and how to avoid them)