Study Raises Safety Concerns for Plastic Containers

Apr 01, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A research study has concluded that bisphenol A, a common ingredient found
in plastic food and beverage containers, causes birth defects in mice.

According to Reuters, Patricia Hunt and researchers at Case Western Reserve
University in Ohio, made the discovery by accident after first noticing an increase
in abnormalities in the egg cells of female mice.

Further investigation found that the plastic cages housing the mice were deteriorating
because of the detergent used to clean them. As a result, bishphenol A was being

Before the detergent/cage connection was made 40 percent of the mice eggs exhibited
abnormalities compared to the normal rate of approximately two percent. The
number climbed even higher when researchers exposed the mice to small amounts
of bisphenol A.

The types of abnormalities found in the eggs of mice exposed to bisphenol A
when found in humans can cause miscarriages and mental disabilities such as
Downs Syndrome.

Fred vom Saal, an expert on the effects of toxins on reproduction at the University
of Missouri told Reuters, “Bisphenol A is one of the most commonly used
plastic materials in food containers, in beverage containers. This is a ubiquitous
chemical…at least in the developed world. It is one of the top 50 chemicals
in production.”

Mr. vom Saal added, “You don’t wait to prove that it does that in people before
you take some regulatory action.”

Patricia Hunt believes there is reason for concern about the effects bisphenol
A may have on humans. According to the report from Reuters, “The changes
in the mice cause aneuploidy — a misalignment of the chromosomes that is seen
in human birth defects and miscarriages.”

Moderator’s Comment: What do retailers and manufacturers
do with these research findings?

Considering the study was funded, in part, by a grant
from the American Chemistry Council, it is hard to counter the worrying news
with an argument that someone with an agenda was doing the study.
Anderson – Moderator

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