Bisphenol A (BPA) is everywhere—the chemical is a significant step and substance in the creation of food, toy and medical packaging and other (mainly plastic) items.
At the same time there is a constant undercurrent cutting up justification for its use, claiming that BPA toxins negatively affect our health long before they end up in the GPGP by leaking out in trace amounts from sources such as plastic water bottles and metal drinking cans. A 2003 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of it in 93 percent of urine samples in Americans six years old and older.
In recent news, researchers from Washington State University and the University of California-Davis just released their findings of a BPA study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These researchers released BPA doses to female rhesus monkeys, and found “new evidence that the plastic additive BPA can disrupt women’s reproductive systems, causing chromosome damage, miscarriages and birth defects.” (Mother Jones)
Not only that, but as WSU geneticist Patricia Hunt (co-author of the WSU study) explains, BPA exposure can cause trouble across generations of offspring:
“The concern is exposure to this chemical that we’re all exposed to could increase the risk of miscarriages and the risk of babies born with birth defects like Down Syndrome…The really stunning thing about the effect is we’re dosing grandma, it’s crossing the placenta and hitting her developing fetus, and if that fetus is a female, it’s changing the likelihood that that female is going to ovulate normal eggs. It’s a three-for-one hit.”
Previous studies of BPA have also found cause for concern in the chemical’s ties to breast cancer and obesity.
The legal status of BPA in food and food packaging has been spotty. Earlier this year, the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups; critics state, however, that the ban was a smoke show, only coming after the industry had already largely phased out the chemical.
The Food and Drug Administration has stated from their assessment that “the scientific evidence at this time does not suggest that the very low levels of human exposure to BPA through the diet are unsafe.”
The global BPA market is currently worth about $8 billion and according to the US Department of Agriculture, German chemical giant Bayer and US-based Dow produce “the bulk” of BPA.
Dow also announced this month that they have reached an agreement with Saudi Arabian Oil Company Saudi Aramco and its parent Sadara Chemical Company to market and sell many of its “high performance plastics” and specialty chemical products market in growing regions, particularly geographies where Dow has strong brand recognition and well-established market channels that enable customer growth (Asia Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and India); while Sadara itself will take the lead in bringing its products to market in certain Middle Eastern nations. Their main inventory of products will be polyurethanes, and Sadara expects to accumulate yearly revenues of $10 billion by 2016 as a result of striking the deal with Dow. (Press Release)