On Bisphenol-A Policy, the Lobbyists Are in Charge

When it comes to bisphenol-A (BPA), a ubiquitous and likely dangerous chemical found in hard plastic products like water bottles, there seems to be three repeating story lines: state and local governments continue to take action, new studies continue to prove frightening, and evidence continues to surface showing that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no interest in protecting American consumers.

Water coolerFirst, as The New York Times reported last week, the city of Chicago is ready to ban BPA in baby bottles. Chicago will join a number of other state and local government who have restricted BPA in the absence of federal action.

Ultimately, the fear of having to navigate an ever-changing landscape of state and local policies may be what pushes reluctant federal officials and the chemical industry to accept federal restrictions on BPA.

Second, as the Environmental Working Group pointed out last week, a new study concludes that BPA can easily and quickly migrate from plastic food and drink containers to your body. (See this article for more on health effects.) From EWG’s blog:

During the study, 77 Harvard student volunteers experienced a nearly 70 percent increase in urinary levels of bisphenol A (BPA) after drinking cold beverages from BPA-laden polycarbonate Nalgene and Lexan water bottles for just one week. 

Finally, in another teeth-grinding, blood-pressure-raising, despair-inducing FDA story, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the FDA repeatedly used the American Chemistry Council, the major lobbying group for chemical makers, as a consultant on all matters related to BPA.

According to reporters Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger, FDA sought out the Chemistry Council’s advice on a number of scientific studies that showed BPA to be harmful, including one authored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which, like FDA, sits within the Department of Health and Human Services.

FDA also used the Chemistry Council as a kind of government affairs consultant. Representatives from the Chemistry Council briefed FDA officials on the “current status of regulatory legislation in states, cities and other countries,” according to the article. The industry representatives also advised FDA on media strategies.

The article points out that both independent scientists and environmental advocates enjoyed no such access. If you’re in the mood to be frustrated, check out the article: “FDA Relied Heavily on BPA Lobby.”

Image by Flickr user llemanie, used under a Creative Commons license.

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