Plastic bottles

Plastic bottles
BPA is commonly used to make plastic bottles [HebiPics under CC0 Public Domain license]
Consumer pressure – not scientific evidence – has prompted companies like Nalgene, General Mills, and Campbell’s to remove a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) from their merchandise.  BPA is primarily used to make plastics that are found in many everyday products, such as water bottles, medical devices, toys, and liners for food cans.  As a result, BPA is ubiquitous in modern life and many people are exposed to it on a daily basis.

Scientists have been researching the consequences of BPA exposure for decades and there is significant evidence that low levels of BPA have no impact on human health.  Nevertheless, critics of BPA claim that it promotes the development of a wide variety of diseases, such as asthma, obesity, and cancer.  This sentiment has recently driven BPA out of many consumer products, leaving manufacturers to search for a suitable replacement.

Bisphenol S (BPS) has emerged as a popular alternative to BPA, but this rapid changeover may have occurred too hastily.  Studies in zebrafish have shown that BPS not only produces the same “deleterious” effects that are associated with BPA, but that it does so more potently.  The relevance of these studies to human biology notwithstanding, this ironic result highlights the imprudence of replacing a material that the FDA has declared to be safe with one that has been far less studied.   If companies will bow to the wishes of the public, then it is imperative that scientific data – not ideology – shape those beliefs.

Acknowledgments: Many thanks to Dr. Josh Bloom, the Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science at the American Council on Science and Health, for providing his expertise and commentary on the topic.

Managing Correspondent: Christopher Gerry

Original article: Effects of Bisphenol S Exposure on Endocrine Functions and Reproduction of Zebrafish – Environmental Science and Technology

Media coverage: Facing Consumer Pressure, Companies Start to Seek Safe Alternatives to BPA – New York Times

Related SITN article: Cash Register Receipts and Clean Hands

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