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Committee Report Warns of Serious Risks from Toxic Chemical in Plastics, But Leaves Out Much More Evidence of Harm
Disregards scientific experts, peer-reviewed studies, relies heavily on data sponsored by chemical industry
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 8, 2007) – Today an expert advisory committee convened by the National Toxicology Program, the primary federal chemical testing and evaluation program within the National Institutes of Health, released a report which dramatically understates the human health risks from real-world exposure to the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), according to scientists at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“If I were a committee member, I wouldn’t sign off on this broken report,” Dr. Jennifer Sass, senior scientist in NRDC’s Health and Environment Program said. “Harmful effects in laboratory animals exposed to even the low levels of BPA that are commonly found in the blood and urine of Americans include an increase in prostate and breast cancer, type II diabetes, reproductive abnormalities, reduced semen quality, recurrent miscarriage, obesity, and neurobehavioral problems similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”
Despite its limitations, the committee report warns that BPA is associated with abnormal reproductive development, and even at low doses is associated with harmful neural and behavioral effects in fetuses exposed to BPA at real-world doses.
BPA is a highly toxic, widespread contaminant used in plastic food and drink packaging, baby bottles and in resins that are used to coat food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Government studies report that 95 percent of Americans have BPA in their blood and urine at levels that cause developmental abnormalities in laboratory animals.
In its report, the committee failed to incorporate public comments from scientific experts, disregarded dozens of studies published in highly respected peer-reviewed journals, and relied heavily on flawed data sponsored by the chemical industry. The result is a committee report that fails to warn Americans about the full range of risks associated with this toxic chemical that contaminates our food and water.
The greatest scientific flaw in the report, according to experts, is the committee’s decision to limit their review to oral-dose studies, primarily the industry-sponsored studies, and not injection studies. This means they failed to include evidentiary science of the full range of risks to unborn fetuses, who receive BPA through the contaminated blood circulation, irrespective of the pregnant mother’s route of exposure,
The National Toxicology Program selected this chemical for evaluation for four reasons: high production volume, widespread human exposure, evidence of reproductive toxicity in laboratory animal studies, and public concern.
In a parallel process that highlights the flaws in the committee report, last week the journal Reproductive Toxicology published a consensus statement from 38 internationally recognized scientific experts, saying: “The wide range of adverse effects of low doses of BPA in laboratory animals exposed both during development and in adulthood is a great cause for concern with regard to the potential for similar adverse effects in humans.”
Next steps will be for the National Toxicology Program to compile all information, including the consensus data of the 38 experts and its own in-house experts to draft its report.
Chemical evaluations from the National Toxicology Program are used by state and federal regulators to set clean up and exposure standards, and are therefore an invaluable resource for regulatory agencies to wisely allocate resources towards the least burdensome and most effective strategies to protect human health.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.