BPA Is Just As Dangerous As It Never Was

A February 23rd, 2018 statement from the U.S Food and Drug Administration about bisphenol A (BPA) should come as no surprise to anyone who has read our work. It affirmed that the American Council on Science and Health and other pro-science groups have been right all along and it is completely safe - something that incompetent or dishonest environmental groups like the Environmental Working Group or the Natural Resources Defense Council, or Internet hucksters like Joe Mercola and Mike Adams, cannot be happy to hear.

After a thorough two-year study, the agency has released a draft report of the NTP (National Toxicology Program) Research Report on the CLARITY-BPA Core Study, which debunks the phony science and fear-mongering that has already occupied scientists for far too long.

One area that has been of significant consumer interest is the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging. BPA is authorized for use in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins in certain food and beverage can linings. Given this interest, the FDA has routinely considered and evaluated the scientific evidence surrounding the use of BPA and continues to conclude that BPA is safe for the currently authorized uses in food containers and packaging.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration  Feb 23, 2018

Perhaps this silliness will finally go away, though it's hard to know since the activist homeopathy known as "endocrine disruption" has existed for two decades now.

The common use of the term BPA is a monomer - it is one of the two ingredients used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics, which are used in food containers, such as liners of metal cans. Polycarbonate plastics are ubiquitous, and very small quantities of BPA, which has been used for 60 years, can leach from the plastic. Minuscule quantities of BPA (specifically, its metabolites) can be found in the urine of virtually everyone, given sufficiently sensitive analytical instrumentation. And in the last 30 years technology has pushed the level of zero into the parts per quadrillion range, much different than the parts per million that used to be the standard for no harmful level.

The presence of trace, yet now detectable, quantities of BPA in urine has been equated with harm by trial lawyers and environmental groups, supposedly from "disruption" of estrogen hormones - a violation of the basic tenets of toxicology, not to mention our dozens of publications on this topic. It has become more difficult to claim harm because of this FDA study.

FDA senior scientists at the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) conducted the two-year study called the Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity in response to a 2008 NTP report which suggested concerns about reproductive effects of low doses of BPA in rodents were worth examining further. It is now clear that these concerns were unfounded, which was confirmed by the two-year study. Highlights include:

  • Studies of different doses of BPA in rodents were conducted.
  • Doses were selected to mimic levels that would range from those far below to far higher than expected to be found in humans.
  • A number of parameters (endpoints) were selected in advance, including growth, weight, and development of tumors. 
  • With the exception of "minimal effects" on the development of tumors, nothing was found to suggest that there was any cause for concern whatsoever. 
  • These minimal effects can probably be dismissed outright because of the animal model chosen for the study - the Sprague-Dawley rat, a breed well known for spontaneous generation of tumors, regardless of whether the rats are exposed to a given test chemical or not. 
  • The "effect" noted was the increase in the occurrence of mammary gland tumors at one of the five doses, in one of the five groups, which is far from compelling.
  • Although these findings must be subjected to peer review, the following will almost certainly stand. 

Overall, the study found "minimal effects" for the BPA-dosed groups of rodents.

The Council has been writing about the false scares of BPA for many years. While we know hundreds of thousands of Americans read our words, companies instead responded to activists and started apologizing for being in business. They raised prices due to replacements and chemophobes did not suddenly flock to their products. ConAgra did not suddenly get increased sales of Manwich from people who said they would not buy Manwich as long as the can lining had BPA.They were never going to buy it anyway and ConAgra later laid off over 1,000 people. Someone should have followed the evidence more carefully.