Is BPA Dangerous? Scientists, FDA Divided

Oct. 4, 2018 — A large government study has found that low doses of the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, appear to cause biological changes in lab animals — including an increase in breast cancers.

The finding is important because the FDA has ruled for years — most recently in 2014 — that BPA is safe in the small amounts people are exposed to in their everyday lives. The new finding also backs up scores of independent studies that have linked low doses of BPA to the development of breast cancer and other ills.

But the FDA is dismissing its own results, infuriating academic scientists who have been trying to convince the agency for years that BPA can cause harm even in tiny amounts.

In an ongoing study, the CDC has measured BPA in the urine of more than 90% of Americans they have tested, indicating widespread exposure. BPA is used in the production of hard, polycarbonate plastics like those used in some reusable water bottles and food storage containers, to line food cans, and in dental sealants. It also coats some kinds of cash register receipts.

Because of safety concerns, France has banned BPA in food packaging. California lists BPA as being toxic to the female reproductive tract under its Proposition 65 rule that requires manufacturers to warn consumers if certain chemicals are in their products.

The results come from a 2-year FDA study of nearly 4,000 rats that were force-fed one of five different doses of BPA.

The experiment was part of a $30 million project that was meant to reconcile conflicting scientific conclusions about the safety of BPA. In addition to the FDA’s core study, the project also funded 13 carefully selected experiments conducted by independent academic researchers. Results from these additional studies will be published by next year.

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