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Who’s Guarding The Guardian?

Judging by a recent article titled “Bisphenol: what to know about the chemicals in water bottles and cans,” no one is guarding The Guardian.  If this article really represents what The Guardian knows about the topic, we can be sure that no one is paying any attention at all.

The article gets off to a poor start by quoting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – from nearly 10 years ago.  A later link to “recent” research goes to a paper published in 2009 and a link to University of Tokyo researchers dates to 2002.  Much has changed in the intervening years, but it would be difficult to know that from the rest of the article.

A more fundamental problem is that the article creates a false balance between two opposed, but certainly not equal views.  Among the several studies that are briefly mentioned is one characterized as a “controversial” government report that showed “no conclusive effects.”  But this is not just another study equal to the few other studies mentioned in the article.

Known as the CLARITY Core Study, it was conducted by senior scientists with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the National Center for Toxicological Research.  The goal of the study was to resolve any remaining uncertainties about the safety of BPA and, to achieve that goal, the study design is of unprecedented scope and magnitude.

As stated by the study’s Principal Investigator, “BPA did not elicit clear, biologically plausible, adverse effects” at any dose even remotely close to typical human exposure levels. In a statement released in conjunction with the report, Dr. Steven Ostroff, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine noted:  “our initial review supports our determination that currently authorized uses of BPA continue to be safe for consumers.

FDA’s clear conclusion on the safety of BPA is based on far more than the results of the CLARITY Core Study.  For more than 10 years, U. S. government scientists have been conducting an in-depth research program with the goal of answering key scientific questions about the safety of BPA.

From this research, we know that human exposure to BPA is very low.  We know that people quickly eliminate BPA from their bodies after exposure.  And we know that BPA is unlikely to cause health effects at the very low levels to which we’re exposed.

This is also the conclusion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In 2015, after a thorough review of the science on BPA, EFSA stated that “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels.” This also applies to pregnant women and to the elderly.

Contrary to the false balance presented by The Guardian, the complete and up-to-date record on BPA is clear to authorities like FDA and EFSA. Maybe next time The Guardian will find the right balance.

Steven Hentges, Ph.D, American Chemistry Council ACC