For the first time, a federal health agency has acknowledged the possible danger of a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), found in thousands of everyday plastic items such as baby bottles and CDs. The chemical, which is used to make hard plastic, can be detected in the urine of 93 percent of the population, says a report by the National Institutes of Health. BPA seems to mimic the body’s hormone estrogen, and has been blamed for such growing public-health problems as early female puberty and breast cancer. The report says the widespread presence of the chemical in human tissues is an issue of “some concern.” If BPA really is dangerous, it will be difficult to eliminate exposure, says Mike Shelby, who oversaw the report. “It’s everywhere,” he tells The Washington Post. “The vast majority of exposure is through food and drink—cans and bottles. But there could be trace amounts in water, dust. Your cell phone is probably made out of it.”
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Health scare of the week: A plastics chemical warning
April 24, 2008
of The Week magazine.