The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided to support additional research with regard to its analysis of BPA safety in plastic baby bottles and food and drink containers. The FDA’s basic position is that current human exposure to BPA in food-packaging materials provides an adequate margin of safety. The FDA’s draft risk assessment on this issue was released in August, finding the chemical safe as it is now used. However, after an FDA advisory committee on the subject questioned some of the FDA methodology and data sources, the FDA has now decided to conduct additional research, as cited in a letter to the advisory committee.
FDA is re-evaluating available data and planning for the acquisition of additional data that will strengthen the exposure estimates from all dietary sources of BPA, with particular attention to dietary sources relevant to infants and children. FDA also will study the cumulative effects of BPA in humans.
Makers of BPA say that the chemical poses no known risk to human health. In response to public demand, some manufacturers have begun introducing products for infants and children that are BPA-free. The Environmental Protection Agency has calculated that adults and infants can consume 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight every day over a lifetime with little appreciable risk of harm.
One of the underlying issues is the use of animal studies. There is no epidemiological evidence that human beings of any age or developmental stage have been harmed in any way by common exposure to BPA. Even workers using the chemical in manufacturing have not been shown to have suffered any harm. The fact that rodents suffer effects at high doses of the chemical may have nothing to do with human health: the same animal tests performed on things we eat and drink every day give the same “toxicity” results. Nevertheless, the planned “large research effort,” with studies lasting years that will assess the effects of the chemical in laboratory animals including rodents and monkeys. FDA is planning to conduct these studies in its laboratories using representative dose ranges and multiple animal models.