Wal-Mart announced this week that it would stop selling baby bottles made with the controversial chemical bisphenol A in its U.S. stores early next year. It has already stopped sales in Canada, where the government is expected to declare the chemical unsafe. On Monday, the U.S. National Toxicology Program said BPA could cause behavioral changes in infants and children, and trigger the early onset of puberty in females. (The Washington Post, free registration). The Nalgene brand, which popularized water bottles made with polycarbonate plastic, will stop using the material because it contains BPA, although the company says the products are safe. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
The big question parents are asking is whether their babies’ bottles are safe, said Canada.com’s Baby & Health blog. The answer is unclear. “While researchers express some concern for pregnant women, developing fetuses, and young children, the risks have so far been deemed minor.” But BPA can leach out in baby bottles heated or sent through the dishwasher repeatedly, so until more research is done to get a better picture of the chemical’s effects, it’s not a bad idea to avoid it altogether by switching—to glass, for example—or avoid heating polycarbonate plastic containers.
“Concerns have been floating around for a while that the chemical could present long-term cancer risks, especially to infants,” said Jacob Goldstein in The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog, but this week’s “dominoes” marked the clearest sign yet that baby bottles, sippy cups, and other containers made from pastics with BPA are “on their way out.” BPA goes into “hard, clear, nearly unbreakable plastic containers” that are “just what you want on the trail or in the nursery,” but the company that makes Nalgene bottles says it can carry on with non-BPA plastics that will work just as well.
There are plenty of brands to choose from if you want a hard plastic without BPA, said Ryan Krogh in an Outside blog. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) recently concluded there was “some concern” with BPA, which was a “swift reversal” over last year, when the same group said that studies linking the chemical to “low birth-weights and delayed puberty were unconvincing.”