Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dominique Browning: "Hitting the Bottle"

At this point, many of us are familiar with Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine-disrupting chemical used in many plastics and aluminum cans. However, until I read “Hitting the Bottle,” an opinion piece in The New York Times earlier this week, I had no idea there were other classes of Bisphenol chemicals. According to the article:
”Bisphenols are shaping up to be a dysfunctional family of chemicals. BPAF is BPA’s fluorinated twin. It is used in electronic devices, optical fibers and more. New studies have found BPAF to be an even more potent endocrine disrupter than BPA. Bisphenol B and Bisphenol F are other variants used instead of BPA in various products. In the limited testing done on those chemicals in other countries, scientists found Bisphenol B to be more potent than BPA in stimulating breast cancer cells.”
Since BPA's bad reputation has spread, companies are moving away from its use, only to substitute other chemicals that haven’t been sufficiently tested either.

It’s a money game, one that the food and packaging companies will win, thanks to our lax regulatory system. While Europe employs the precautionary principle, the United States is home to the “introduce a product now, find out the dangers later” theory of consumer protection. (This is especially prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry, where the drug companies—NOT THE FDA!—are responsible for the safety testing of possible drugs.)

Of course, the public pays. Dominique Browning, the article’s author, sums up what so many of us feel:

"By the time we know what those new chemicals do to us, entire generations are affected. We are the guinea pigs.

"The system is broken. We must reverse the process: test first. And we should allow only chemicals proven to be safe into the marketplace."
Click here to read Browning’s piece, which also briefly discusses the Toxic Substances Control Act, which, in theory, should be controlling toxic substances a hell of a lot better than it is now.

No comments: