Target: Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Ensure the well-being of infants and toddlers by conducting more research to determine the safety of BPA-free plastics
A recent article in Mother Jones has cast a spotlight on the threat of harmful plastics and the potential health risks they pose to infants and toddlers. New research suggests that plastics marketed as safe may pose risks to children’s health. BPA, or bisphenol, is a chemical found in synthetic plastics that can be harmful to children. Common BPA-free baby products, including bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, toys, and food storage containers previously thought to be safe also contain bisphenol (BPS), a chemical similar to BPA. Research has shown that the synthetic estrogen contained in BPS has similar adverse effects on the body.
Estrogen plays a key role in many body functions, and too little or too much, especially early in life, can alter brain and organ development and lead to serious health problems. Synthetic estrogen has been linked to an array of common health problems including asthma, cancer, infertility, heart disease and liver problems.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has based its official recommendations entirely on safety research conducted by the plastics industry and is being pressured by lobbyists to discontinue additional research studies.
Under U.S. law, chemicals are presumed safe until proven otherwise. Manufacturers and retailers are rarely required to collect or disclose chemical-safety data. When companies began offering BPA-free plastics, many did not test them for toxic compounds or synthetic hormones. Some companies tested Tritan, a widely-used BPA-free plastic, but never made the findings public. Retailers, including Whole Foods, had questions about the research but began selling the products anyway.
Recent tests conducted on BPA-free plastics delivered alarming results. CertiChem, a Texas-based lab, tested eighteen plastic children’s cups, purchased at Target, Walmart and Babies R Us. More than a quarter came back positive for estrogenic activity. This mirrored CertiChem’s findings in its broader National Institutes of Health-funded research study. The report stated that nearly all commercially available plastics that were tested contained synthetic estrogens, even when they were not exposed to conditions known to unlock the chemicals, such as a microwave, dishwasher, or sun exposure. A separate test conducted in 2011 showed that 72 percent of 455 store bought food containers and storage products tested positive for synthetic estrogens.
Urge the FDA to conduct independent research studies on BPA-free plastic. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is being swayed by the American Chemistry Council, which lobbies for plastic makers and has sued CertiChem to prevent it from publishing findings that BPA-free plastic is estrogenic. Infants and toddlers lives are being put at risk in order to make profit. Our nation’s most vulnerable citizens need us to protect them from being used as pawns to make money.
Dear Commissioner Hamburg,
The Food and Drug Administration recently published a paper finding that BPA is safe in low doses, in response to new claims that BPA-free plastics pose an equivalent, if not greater, health risk. Despite lab contamination and questionable research subjects, the study’s findings are being used to justify the continued sale of potentially harmful plastics.
Common baby products that are advertised as BPA-free, including bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, toys, and food storage containers, contain bisphenol S (BPS), a chemical cousin of BPA. Research has shown that the synthetic estrogen contained in both kinds of plastics have similar negative effects on the body. As you are well aware, estrogen plays an important role in many body functions, and too little or too much, especially early in life, can alter brain and organ development and lead to serious health problems. Synthetic estrogen has been linked to an array of common health problems including asthma, cancer, infertility, heart disease, liver disease, and ADHD.
New research suggests that BPA-free plastics, marketed as a safe alternative, may pose an equal, if not greater, risk to children’s health. A National Institutes of Health-funded research study on BPA-free plastics found that nearly all commercially available plastics that were tested contained synthetic estrogens, even when they were not exposed to conditions known to unlock the chemicals.
The FDA has pledged to protect and promote the health of Americans, but it has relied on industry lobbyists to track and evaluate plastics research. I urge you to request additional independent research studies to determine the safety of BPA-free plastics. It is time for the FDA to give as much consideration to infants and toddlers as they give to the American Chemistry Council’s lobbyists. Do not allow children’s lives and futures to be put at risk in the name of capitalism.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Alicia Voorhies via Flickr