16 Jan

Leaching BPA, The Ignored Harvard Study

Harvard Study Confirmed Plastic Bottles Leach BPA

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, May 22, 2009


BPA leaches from plastic water bottles, says a Harvard study.

Plastic Bottles Leach BPA


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ baby boy and bottle/ author: Matthias Sebulke

This study comes from the Harvard School of Public Health and is the first to confirm that drinking from plastic water bottles increases the amount of a chemical plasticizer that leaches into the body.

The study finds that bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics clear and shatter-resistant, is increased in the bodies of people who drink from hard plastic bottles.

In the study, 77 Harvard students drank cold water from stainless steel bottles made without BPA.  The following week they drank water from plastic bottles made from BPA. During the second week, the amount of BPA in their urine was found to have increased by 69 percent, reports the Boston Globe.

The study evolved from a challenge in the class of Karin B. Michels, an associate professor at the School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

The Boston Globe reports that Michels warned students that they might want to limit their water consumption from plastic bottles.  That raised the question of just how much BPA they were getting.

Most BPA is flushed out of the body within hours, though the endocrine disruptor is found in the urine of an estimated 93 percent of Americans over the age of six, reports another study in EHP online.  Since it is fat soluble, BPA may accumulate in human fat.

The study is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

BPA is used in everyday products from plastics baby bottles to the lining of food-containing cans, to infant formulas, microwavable plastic dishes, dental sealants and composites, PVC pipe, and carbonless paper.

Infants in particular are at risk of the endocrine or hormone disrupting potential of BPA.  Endocrine disruptors are linked to the feminization of male fish that contain eggs when they live downstream from a source.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still studying the BPA issue after an initial assessment that it is not a health hazard, despite a Journal of the American Medical Association report, September 2008,  that links BPA exposure to diabetes and heart disease.

BPA Phase Out

While Canada banned the use of BPA in baby bottles last year, Massachusetts is considering warning pregnant women and young children to avoid the plastic.

Six baby bottle manufacturers have already decided to phase out BPA and Wal-Mart plans to convert its baby bottle stock to BPA-free.  Nalgene, maker of water bottles says it will eliminate the use of the chemical in its water bottles.

How can consumers do a little detective work at home?

One way to identify BPA is to look at the plastic identification number “7” inside the universal recycling symbol on the bottom of the plastic item. That is not an absolute positive ID though as the number “7” just identifies plastics that do not fall into the 1- 6 recycling categories.

BPA has been a suspected endocrine disruptor since pioneer zoologist, Theo Colburn began following the chemical train in her landmark book, Our Stolen Future (Dutton, 1996; Plume 1997), where she explored the many examples of plasticizers acting as a synthetic form of estrogen that disrupt the normal sexual development among wildlife.

The American Chemistry Council holds the position that exposure to BPA is extremely low and despite the Harvard study, polycarbonate bottles do not lead to unusually high levels of bisphenol A in the urine.”    #

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