Environmental Factor, February 2010, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
HHS Calls for More Research on BPA
By Robin Mackar
NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum Ph.D., joined U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials on Friday, Jan. 15 in a call for more research on bisphenol A (BPA). Birnbaum, HHS Deputy Secretary William Corr, J.D., U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D., and others provided an update on BPA during a series of teleconferences to Congress, the media, partners, and industry. BPA is a chemical that has been used for more than 40 years and is added to many hard plastic food containers such as baby bottles and to the lining of metal and food beverage cans.
"BPA has not been proven to harm either children or adults," explained Corr during a call to the media. "However, given that children in the early stages of development are exposed to BPA, new data in laboratory animals deserves a closer look."
In 2008, the FDA conducted a review of toxicology research and information on BPA and, at that time, judged food-related materials containing BPA on the market to be safe. But recent studies have reported subtle effects of low doses of BPA in laboratory animals. These newer studies are what prompted federal health officials to express some concern about the safety of BPA. The announcement of "some concern" aligns with the conclusions of the NTP Report on BPA(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/2008/bisphenol-a.cfm).
"We need more research to understand the potential health effects of BPA exposure to children," Corr added. While research on BPA continues, HHS officials offered some reasonable steps(http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/) that parents can take to minimize their families' exposure to BPA.
Corr also announced that the President has called for the establishment of an Interagency Task Force on Children's Environmental Health. The Task Force will coordinate efforts across the government to focus on environmental health risks that disproportionately affect children, including BPA.
In her remarks, Birnbaum agreed that more research is needed to determine how BPA affects overall human health, in particular young children who are especially vulnerable to the adverse consequences of BPA. Birnbaum highlighted the $30 million research effort on BPA(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/2009/bisphenol-research.cfm) led by NIEHS and NTP.
"It is very important that scientific and regulatory agencies work together, so that all of the available research can and will be considered," Birnbaum said.
(Robin Mackar is the news director in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)