A coalition of leading scientists from the U.S., Britain, and Italy is urging the British government to ban bisphenol-A, otherwise known as BPA, in food and beverage containers intended for infants, following the publication of more scientific evidence the chemical is potentially harmful.
The group of scientists–considered the leading toxicologists and cancer specialists studying the issue–published a letter in The Independent last week, following the paper’s recent coverage of BPA issues.
“To protect vulnerable populations, we believe it would be both prudent and precautionary in public health terms if products containing BPA used for baby and children’s food and liquid packaging in the UK were withdrawn,” the coalition wrote to The Independent. “BPA should be replaced by less hazardous substances.”
A growing body of research has linked low-level exposure to BPA, which is used to manufacture a wide range of plastic products, to disruptions in the endocrine system, an issue that can cause reproductive, neurological, and behavioral problems.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to make a final decision on whether low level exposure to BPA is a threat to public health, though it did announce in January that it has “some concern” about the chemical. Following the FDA’s updated position, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) began a public health review, which is ongoing.
This month, four new studies showed health consequences from BPA exposure, even at very low levels.
A paper from the University of Michigan found endocrine disruptors, including BPA, have a harmful impact on men’s health, specifically in reproduction, development, and metabolism. The Italian Endometriosis Foundation in Rome linked BPA to endometriosis, a chronic gynecological disease in a study on mice. Tufts University in Boston criticized two previous studies that had suggested human BPA exposure was negligible.
The University of Auckland in New Zealand is expected to publish research later this month showing that even very low doses of BPA can pass across the human placenta, putting babies in the womb at risk.
“These new studies are significant because they all indicate and confirm the growing body of evidence that suggests BPA is harmful even in minute doses,” Professor Andrew Watterson, a signatory to the letter who works at the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group at the University of Stirling, told The Independent.
“The vast majority of scientific studies in the past year or so have confirmed our concerns about BPA which is why we are in favor of a precautionary and preventative approach to its use. Until we know more about the harm it could be doing we should stop using it,” he said.
Denmark recently banned BPA in food containers meant for children under the age of three, joining Canada, and several U.S. states with similar bans to limit exposure to very young children.
For more information on limiting BPA exposure, see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Website.