February 13, 2009

Wherever You Go, There's BPA

Enviroblog flagged this deeply disturbing article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the results of new bisphenol-A studies. I'd heard that BPA hangs around in our bodies longer than earlier believed, but this brought me up short:

The research indicates for the first time that people are either constantly being bombarded with bisphenol A from non-food sources, such as receipts and plastic water piping, or they are storing the chemical in fat cells, unable to get rid of it as quickly as scientists have believed.

"It provides evidence that we are being exposed to more BPA than we think - and that contaminated food and beverages may not even be the main source" of our BPA exposure, said Patricia Hunt, a professor at Washington State University who pioneered studies linking BPA to cancer. "Scary, huh?"

I think I now know how to answer the question, "Would you like your receipt, sir?" Um. No. And water pipes?! Raise your hand if you have PVC plumbing. I count about 100 million of you. And let me also observe that it makes me really unhappy when scientists use words like "scary" to talk about the presence of certain chemicals in our bodies. Leave it to Enviroblog to bring the hammer down, risk-wise:

An estimated 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced globally annually, generating about $6 billion in sales. In addition to food containers, BPA is an additive in many other consumer products, some like plastic water pipes and municipal water storage tanks may also leach BPA directly into the drinking water. Let us also consider the other side of BPA lifecycle: What happens to those 6 billion pounds every year once they are released into the environment? They do not just disappear; on the contrary, BPA accumulates in the freshwater and marine environment, where it could damage wildlife reproduction. In 2007, an interdisciplinary team of scientists from seven different research institutions, found aquatic animals and aquatic ecosystems to be at great risk for BPA-caused endocrine disruption.

Water pollution with BPA is not just a risk to wildlife, as demonstrated by another research finding, this time from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Tucked away among long data tables of a recent USGS report is a startling observation that BPA is 1 of the 5 most frequently detected chemical contaminants in groundwater sites analyzed by USGS. 30% of the samples tested by USGS scientists contained BPA. In many communities nationwide, groundwater is the main source of drinking water, and people in some communities might be continuously exposed to BPA simply from the water they drink. Water utilities have not been testing tap water for potential BPA contamination so we don't know how many people may be ingesting BPA with tap water. But just think about it: with 6 billion pounds of BPA produced every year, the purity of our water supplies may very well be at risk.

So much for chucking all those water bottles and cutting back on canned food. Enviroblog wants you to read this and then sign their petition in support of the KidSafe Chemicals Act. But before we go to all the trouble of passing a law, can we just ban the stuff? Pretty please?

Photo by Aper3Caper used under a CC license

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

PVC plumbing is used for waste water, not feeds. It typically replaces cast iron.

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