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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Plastics may affect foetal health

9th August 2007

A US government panel has said that a chemical found in many commonly used plastics, might pose some risk to the health of children, and to the developing foetus.


Exposure to the substance, bisphenol A, or BPA, may present 'some risk' to human development and reproduction, according to a panel of experts engaged by the US National Toxicology Program.

BPA can be found in plastics used to make a variety of everyday objects, including CDs, DVDs, baby bottles and food and drink packaging.

It can also be found in cars, sports equipment and water pipes.

The director of the US Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction, Michael D. Shelby, said the panel's findings meant that the possibility of risks associated with exposure to BPA could not be dismissed.

But he said more research was needed to find out exactly what the effects of BPA were.

Animal experiments have suggested that BPA may mimic the female sex hormone estradiol. The fear has been that exposure to BPA can cause birth defects and developmental problems.

Exposure to BPA, which can occur through direct contact or by exposure to food and drink that has been in contact with it, has also been blamed for cancer, diabetes, obesity and attention deficit disorder.

The panel was asked to decide whether the effects of BPA were of negligible concern, minimal concern, some concern, concern or serious concern.

They decided that there was some concern that exposure to BPA had neural and behavioural effects on the developing foetus, and on children. It found minimal concern that exposure to the compound contributed to an acceleration of puberty.

It found a negligible level of concern that it caused birth defects, however.

For adults, the panel found "negligible concern" that there would be adverse reproductive effects following exposure to BPA. In addition, it had "minimal concern" for people exposed to BPA at work, Shelby said.

Jennifer Sass, senior scientist for the Health and Environment Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group, said the report was skating over the problem.

She said harmful effects in laboratory animals exposed to even the low levels of BPA that are commonly found in the blood and urine of Americans include an increase in prostate and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, reproductive abnormalities, reduced semen quality, recurrent miscarriage, obesity, and neurobehavioural problems similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

She said the range of data had been limited mostly to industry-sponsored studies. Representatives of the plastics industry said the panel's report was "very reassuring".

Reports from the National Toxicology Program are used by state and federal regulators to establish exposure standards, and are a resource for regulatory agencies to allocate resources toward most effective strategies to protect human health.


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Article Information

Title: Plastics may affect foetal health
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 3704
Date Added: 9th Aug 2007


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