France Takes A Lead In BPA Ban

By: Saira Malhotra

In recent years, there has been a great push for companies to turn BPA free. This week, the Deutsche Welle published an article on how France is upping the ante and taking more drastic measures.

BPA, Bisphenol-A, is a chemical product and is used in the production of plastic and resins since the 1960's. The chemical can be found in many household products, such as the inside lining of canned food and sodas, plastic bottles, paper used for cash registers to generate receipts, water supply lines and kids electronic toys. Studies undertaken by ANSES (French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety) reveal that this possibly infamous and hazardous chemical is present in 60 different industries.

The concerns regarding BPA came to light when certain studies suggested that the chemical posed health and environmental threats. According to Deutsche Welle, animal testing has demonstrated the impact of hormonal imbalance. Fish have shown a weakening of sexual organs and some scientists believe that humans could be affected the same way. Michele Delaunay, a doctor and Socialist Party legislator in the French National Assembly states "There are cases in which very young girls have developed breasts, and bisphenol-A could be to blame." Michele is also concerned that it may be a contributor to other health epidemics, "it can be responsible for obesity, cardiovascular diseases and could possibly increase the risk of cancer.""

According to the article, evidence also suggests that 39% of BPA absorbed by babies, is sourced from the mother's milk and as the child grows, more BPA is absorbed through milk bottles and canned foods. The Mayo Clinic also talks about the possible link BPA chemicals can have, not just to children, but also to the fetus, potentially impacting the "brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children".

While the European Food Saftey Authority (EFSA) declared a daily limit of 0.05 milligram, ANSES believes that this is too high and continues to pose health risks. The push has led to France mandating a ban on the use of BPA products used for food packaging by 2014.

Could this have led to a tipping point? Shortly after France made this announcement, Denmark cast an even wider net to include BPA teething rings, kids utensils, and toys for kids below 3 years of age. The U.S, Canada, and Japan have also made strides to package low BPA exposed food. However, this is a dark area as it is unclear what BPA is being replaced with and if there are any other health repercussions.

The views are divided on whether the BPA chemical poses any tangible health risks. Some scientists and medical researchers feel that the discussion has blown out of proportion and the actions being taken are unsupported by adequate evidence. This week, biomedical scientist and Stanford scholar, Henry Miller, talked to Forbes magazine about the research supporting the health impacts are incoherent and misunderstood by the very people reporting them. He asserts that the CDC and FDA have conducted thorough research on BPA and the results demonstrate that "because of the way BPA is processed in the body, it is nearly impossible that it could cause health effects in adults, children, or even fetuses.

Photo: planningqueen

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