UMass doc comments on pediatricians statement re: plastic food containers

Umass doc weights in on this. Also see research from Silent Spring Institute.

AAP release here.

NIH photo


From Times: “Because hormones act at low concentrations in our blood, it is not surprising that even low-level exposures to endocrine disrupters can contribute to disease,” said Laura N. Vandenberg, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s School of Public Health, who spoke on behalf of the Endocrine Society.



BPA linked to infertility? Until we know more, how to reduce exposure



A growing body of evidence suggests that women who have high urine levels of bisphenol-A—a chemical used in some hard plastics and to coat metal cans—are more likely to suffer from infertility, and now researchers have found a possible reason why. BPA may disrupt eggs from maturing properly, according to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers.

“As many as 20 percent of infertile couples have unexplained infertility, and this might just shed a glimmer of light on a contributing factor that plays a role,” said study co-author Catherine Racowsky, director of the hospital’s assisted reproductive technologies laboratory.

So, what to do to reduce you BPA levels? The Silent Spring Institute, a Newton research program looking a the links between breast cancer and the environment,  did a study looking at just that in 2011. They found that by families that were willing to give up canned food, food packaged in plastic, and restaurant meals for three days. “When study families switched to the fresh food diet, their levels of the hormone disruptors BPA and DEHP dropped by half.”

More here from the FDA. 

ips from SSI on how to limit exposure to BPA

While scientists continue to study the health effects of these chemicals, here
are  simple steps to play it safe and reduce your exposure:

Fresh is best 
BPA and phthalates can migrate from the linings of cans and plastic 
packaging into food and drinks. While it’s not practical to avoid food 
packaging altogether, opt for fresh or frozen instead of canned food as 
much as possible.

Eat in
Studies have shown that people who eat more meals prepared outside 
the home have higher levels of BPA. To reduce your exposure, consider 
cooking more meals at home with fresh ingredients. When you do eat 
out, choose restaurants that use fresh ingredients.

Store it safe
Food and drinks stored in plastic can collect chemicals from the
containers, especially if the foods are fatty or acidic. Next time, try 
storing your leftovers in glass or stainless steel instead of plastic.
While scientists continue to study the health effects of these chemicals, here 

Don’t microwave in plastic
Warmer temperatures increase the rate of chemicals leaching into food and drinks. So use heat-resistant glass or ceramic containers when you microwave, or heat your food on the stove. The label “microwave safe” means safety for the container, not your health. 

Brew the old-fashioned way
Automatic coffee makers may have BPA and phthalates in their plastic containers and tubing. 
When you brew your coffee, consider using a French press to get your buzz without the BPA.

Hormone disrupters: Is Triclosan the next BPA?

 From the Globe

 Some scientists and environmentalists say triclosan may do more harm than good because — while industry insists it is safe in everyday applications — there is evidence it can disrupt animal hormones.

 Representative Edward J. Markey, following several months of correspondence with federal agencies about potential health effects, is calling on the federal government to ban its use in a broad range of consumer products that are used to wash hands and prepare food, or are marketed to children. He is also filing legislation that would accelerate the government’s evaluation and regulation of potentially harmful products. 

Markey Press Release.

 From this office

A copy of the FDA response can be found here:
A copy of the EPA response can be found here:

A fact sheet on triclosan prepared by Chairman Markey’s office can be found here:

Mass. warning on BPA baby bottles and the brothers Koh

The state is urging parents to stop using BPA baby bottles.

DPH is specifically advising mothers of children up to two years old to avoid the use of products that contain BPA for making or storing infant formula and breast milk. Current research suggests that BPA levels in newborns may be much higher than in adults. While researchers caution that more research needs to be conducted, it seems prudent to reduce exposures for pregnant and breastfeeding women to the extent possible in order to reduce levels in their newborn children.

And, the Globe offers story about former state health commish Howard Koh. He who now works for Obama along with his lawyer brother.

Howie is board-certified in four fields, which apparently is very rare. I took the bar in three states,’’ said Harold, acknowledging their mutual ambition.

“People regularly get our names confused and think I’m the lawyer and he’s the doctor,’’ said Howard, in what is believed to be their first joint interview since the Edgewood Echo at Edgewood School in New Haven covered Howard’s run for sixth-grade class president. (His winning slogan: “Go for Koh.’’)


Harvard students have drinking problem: bisphenol A

And, when it comes to BPA, the FDA has a little problem with objectivity, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

First to Boston. The Globe reports that a Harvard prof was inspired to do a new study on the suspect by-product of some plastics when she saw her student drinking out of bottles.

Led by Jenny Carwile, a Harvard School of Public Health doctoral student, 77 Harvard students in the study drank all cold beverages from stainless steel bottles for a week to wash BPA out of their bodies and minimize exposure. Most BPA is flushed from people’s bodies within a matter of hours. During that week, the students gave urine samples.

Then the students were given two refillable polycarbonate bottles made with BPA to drink all cold beverages from for one week. Urine samples taken over that week showed the students’ BPA levels spiked the second week to levels normally found in the general population.

Here’s a link to the actual study:

Use of Polycarbonate Bottles and Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration

On the FDA end of this story, The Journal Sentinal says it has emails that “show how government regulators relied on the trade association to do much of their work for them. The FDA relied on two studies – both paid for by chemical makers – to form the framework of its draft review declaring BPA to be safe.”

Here’s a take on BPA from that trade association, the American Chemistry Council.

The scientific evidence supporting the safety of bisphenol A has been repeatedly and comprehensively examined by government and scientific bodies worldwide. In every case, these assessments support the conclusion that bisphenol A is not a risk to human health at the extremely low levels to which people might be exposed.

The Council states the current thinking of regulators — now we know why. The environmentalists say the evidence of harm is clear – BPA has to go.

For that point of view, see The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow : “A broad coalition in Massachusetts working to pass laws and policies that prevent harm to our health from toxic chemicals.” Here’s why they think the Harvard study is important.  

Well, it has been thought that BPA is mostly a danger when heated, but this study shows that BPA also leaches out of polycarbonate plastic when cooled. This is particularly relevant to the adult population that drinks mostly cold beverages in polycarbonate containers, while it is mostly polycarbonate baby bottles that contain warm liquids.

This Globe story details the group’s effort to get BPA banned in the state.