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FDA registers concern over toxic plastics chemical BPA

FDA fails to take decisive steps to protect public; advocates call for Congressional action

Contact: Shannon Coughlin, Breast Cancer Fund, 415-336-2246,

SAN FRANCISCO – In a reversal of the Food and Drug Administration's widely-criticized 2008 declaration that bisphenol A, or BPA, was safe, today the agency said that the chemical warrants "some concern" for its potential effects on children's development.

BPA is a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to breast cancer and other serious health problems. Used in polycarbonate plastic food containers and the lining of food cans, BPA leaches into food and, subsequently, into people. Today the FDA advised parents on ways to reduce infant exposure to BPA while it further investigates the chemical. The agency announced it would take steps to encourage industry efforts to replace BPA in baby bottles and infant formula containers, to develop alternatives, and to replace or minimize BPA in other food containers. The FDA also critiqued and called for changes to its own system for approving food-contact substances like BPA.

"It's good that the FDA finally registered concern about BPA and is advising parents on how to reduce children's exposure," said Janet Nudelman of the Breast Cancer Fund. "But we're disappointed that the FDA did not go further. We were hoping for more decisive action, especially since the science shows that there is no safe level of exposure and we know safer, cost-effective alternatives to BPA are already in use."

Fortunately, Congress is currently considering legislation, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., that would ban BPA from baby bottles, sports water bottles and reusable food containers. The bill would also ban BPA from canned foods where safe alternatives exist and require labeling where they don't. And the bill would give the FDA the authority to modernize its process for reviewing and approving food-packaging additives like BPA.

"FDA took an important first step today," said Nudelman. "Now Congress needs to take the next step to protect the American people from this highly toxic, hormonally active chemical."

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