BPA news in the New Yorker

Last week’s New Yorker featured an interesting article called The Plastic Panic: How worried should we be about everyday chemicals. Journalist Jerome Groopman, also a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School, wonders if  BPA “may be among the world’s most vilified chemicals” and explores why governmental regulators are still undecided about whether to ban it. Groopman put the question to John Vandenbergh, a member of the expert panel for the National Toxicology Program:  

one of the problems is that we would have to take half of the kids in the kindergarten and give them BPA and the other half not. Or expose half of the pregnant women to BPA in the doctor’s office and the other half not. And then we have to wait thirty to fifty years to see what effects this has on their development, and whether they get more prostate cancer or breast cancer. You have to wait at least until puberty to see if there is an effect on sexual maturation. Ethically, you are not going to go and feed people something if you think it harmful, and, second, you have this incredible time span to deal with.

 

Groopman goes on to explore why toxicity studies are difficult and can lead to uncertainty, and, following on from the recent US President’s Cancer Panel Report*,  concludes that taking the precautionary route is the right way forward.

There’s no guarantee that we’ll always be right, but protecting those at the greatest risk shouldn’t be deferred.

 

Read the whole article here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/05/31/100531fa_fact_groopman#ixzz0pcbqXU35

*The President’s Cancer Panel Report singled out BPA as the example for chemicals that should be more tightly regulated, even as research continues into just how harmful they are.

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