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Is BPA Really Dangerous?

Bisphenol-a, or BPA, is everywhere. It’s in the lining of every can of soup at your grocery store. It’s in the Nalgene bottle you’ve carried with you since college (though not in one you bought this year, since the company has stopped using BPA). It’s even in our dental sealants.

BPA shows up in the urine of nearly everyone living in North America.

Should we care?

Maybe. The science on whether or not BPA harms humans is mixed.

BPA is a known endocrine disruptor. In animals, BPA has been linked to obesity, cancer, and diabetes. Studies of it’s effects in people are harder to quantify, leaving medical researchers with more questions than answers. A growing number of scientists, advocacy groups and elected officials are calling for a ban on the chemical in food containers, especially those marketed to children.

The issue of a BPA ban has become politically polarized: many children’s advocates and Democrats want to adopt a European style “precautionary principle” that would ban chemicals from our food supply if there are plausible questions about their danger to human health.

Is there really an argument against that obviously sane approach? Apparently yes. Republicans in Congress and chemical industry lobbyists are pushing hard to keep BPA in our food until it’s been proven harmful to humans. Gee, thanks guys.

While government officials bicker, popular demand has created a powerful market for “BPA-free” plastics. Two years ago trying to buy a BPA-free baby bottle was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Now you’d be hard pressed to find any baby bottle made with BPA. Water bottles for adults have followed suit.

The canned food industry remains a holdout, saying there is no good industrial replacement for BPA as a lining for cans. Here at my house we’ve found a great one: we just don’t use any canned foods. It’s surprisingly easy once you get used to it.

Are you concerned about BPA in your food? Do you avoid certain foods or containers because of this chemical? Share your stories in the comments.

Photo: pfly

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