BPA Archives - Shopfloor

Scientific Method Disproves the BPA Scare, Again

By | Media Relations, Regulations | 2 Comments

From The American, the online magazine of the American Enterprise Institute, “A Toxic Setback for the Anti-Plastic Campaigners“:

Advocacy groups targeting plastic products made with bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates took it on the chin last week.

A comprehensive review by the German Society of Toxicology of thousands of studies on BPA concluded, “[BPA] exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies.” The group, which included several scientists who have advised regulatory caution on BPA, bucked calls by advocacy groups to lower safe exposure levels…

In reviewing what it called a long-running “scientific and journalistic controversy,” the panel urged the public to avoid being seduced by each and every provocative small-scale laboratory experiment on a handful of rats. “It is not helpful to count how many academic studies are positive versus negative and to decide by majority vote whether a health hazard has to be expected or not,” as the anti-BPA crowd and compliant media do as a matter of course. Science is not “majority feelings” win; it’s about “weight of evidence.”

Journalistic controversy is right. Consumer scares are the staple of today’s journalism, especially local TV news and the morning shows, which became avid consumers of hyped allegations made by self-interested activist groups (cheered on by trial lawyers).

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel , a good newspaper, mounted a journalistic campaign against the chemical, driving public policy and winning a Scripps Howard prize in the process. We haven’t seen the German study reported yet in the paper. Soon, we’re sure.

Yes, it’s old hat. There are many, many examples of “consumer activists,” trial lawyers and their political allies attacking the chemical du jour to win publicity, votes, lawsuits and journalistic prizes. But in doing so, they exaggerate risk, play on people’s fears, create a demand for more government (and less freedom), and deprive the consumer of safe, useful and affordable products that make life more pleasant. Look at the kind of foolishness this phenomenon produces, courtesy ABC Channel 7 News in Denver:

DENVER — If you’re the type who has a wallet or purse full of receipts, you might want to throw them out. They could have the chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA, on them.

Give us the scientific method over fear-mongering any day.

Flash! Hot News! BPA Prevents Food-Borne Illness

By | General, Regulations | No Comments

Flipped through the pages of The Washington Post this morning looking for the story: Millions of Americans last week purchased canned food products without risk of food-borne illnesses thanks to the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in packaging.

Didn’t find it. Didn’t expect to. It’s not news, really. Still, for all the headlines that anti-BPA studies and campaigns are able to generate, it would be nice balance for an article to appear every so often, “Modern technology, chemical applications in food packaging help feed Americans safely and affordably.”

John Stossel notes the phenemonon in a recent column on BPA and a movie attacking its use, “Tapped.” From his latest in The Washington Examiner, “Plastic water bottles won’t hurt you

[A] documentary called “Tapped” …quotes experts claiming “BPA may be one of the most potent toxic chemicals known to man.”

Nonsense. Not only is there no good evidence that BPA locked into plastic can hurt people, it actually saves lives by stopping botulism.

“Since BPA became commonplace in the lining of canned goods, food-borne illness from canned foods — including botulism — has virtually disappeared,” says the American Council of Science and Health.

You never hear the good news about BPA in the mainstream media. Fear-mongering gets better ratings.

Interesting about “Tapped,” another documentary-style film being made to promote a highly politicized and litigated campaign against an industry, in this case, the bottled water industry. “Crude” has proved a disaster for the activists/trial lawyers who thought the film could be a powerful tool in their PR campaign against Chevron. Wonder how “Tapped” will come back to bite this particular bunch of anti-commerce, anti-science, anti-safety alarmists.

Chinese Factory Workers With Elevated BPA Means So Very Little

By | Briefly Legal, Regulations | 3 Comments

Today’s Washington Post gives good play to the latest report raising thinly based alarms about bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical used to harden plastics and make consumer packaging safer.  The Page A16 story, “Study: BPA has effect on sperm” reports: 

The study of more than 200 Chinese factory workers found that those who were exposed to bisphenol A, or BPA, were more likely to have lower sperm counts and poorer sperm quality. The study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, is the first to produce evidence that the chemical could adversely affect sperm quality in humans.

 A scientist studies the sperm count of 200 men — just 200 — working in Chinese factories that produce BPA or use it in the production process and concludes that BPA is a threat to the general public. What, were members of the Society for the Consumption of Vast Amounts of BPA unavailable as test subjects? 

As the American Chemistry Council’s Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D., said in a statement

This study of Chinese workers with high exposure to BPA is of limited relevance to consumers who, by contrast, are exposed to only very low levels of BPA. 

Studies from the U.S. CDC and Health Canada have shown that typical consumer exposure to BPA, from all sources, is more than 1,000 time lower than government-established safe intake levels. 

We’re accustomed to the hyping of the supposed risks of BPA, exaggerations that serve the interests of the class-action lawyers and “consumer activists” who raise money by scaring people. 

Sure, you could understand why Chinese Factory Worker Today might have written about this study, but it’s hard to detect the study’s relevance to American readers. So you have to wonder about the Post’s news judgment in giving it such good play, especially when you consider other reports that the Post deemed not newsworthy, e.g., this major announcement from the European Food Safety Authority, charged by the EU with assessing  risk regarding food and feed safety.

Following a detailed and comprehensive review of recent scientific literature and studies on the toxicity of bisphenol A at low doses, scientists on the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) CEF[1] Panel conclude they could not identify any new evidence which would lead them to revise the current Tolerable Daily Intake[2] for BPA of 0.05 mg/kg body weight[3] set by EFSA in its 2006 opinion and re-confirmed in its 2008 opinion[4]. The Panel also state that the data currently available do not provide convincing evidence of neurobehavioural toxicity of BPA.

A major body of independent scientists examined 800 studies of BPA and found no reason to change the current exposure standards, reaffirming that bisphenol A does not pose a risk to consumers. But the EFSA report’s first mention in the Post is a single paragraph in today’s story.

BPA serves a valuable purpose, preventing plastics from cracking or shattering and when used in packaging, preserving the taste and quality of food and beverages while preventing their contamination. If hype, scaremongering and bad science succeed in driving BPA out of the marketplace, we’ll have more people stepping on broken plastic and cutting themselves, and more seriously, more people will die of food poisoning.

Now THAT’s real risk, well worthy of news coverage.

Reasonable Regulations, Resources for Food Safety

By | Regulations | 2 Comments

The Des Moines Register reports on a news conference Monday that included representatives from business associations and “consumer activists,” both supporting a new food safety bill that might be considered soon in the U.S. Senate. From “Big biz, consumers ally on food safety“:

Consumer advocates and big business are at odds more often than not but they’re getting together this week to call on senators to pass a food-safety bill before they Washington to campaign. Officials with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Manufacturers appeared at a news conference today with representatives of several major consumer groups, including the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The bill would increase food inspections, require food makers to have plans for preventing contamination, authorize growing standards for fruit and vegetable growers, and provide the Food and Drug Administration with new authority to oversee farms and processors.

Rosario Palmieri, a vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the legislation would “bring certainty to food and beverage manufacturers as well as the supply base that supports them.”

The bill is S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Its progress has been slowed if not stalled in the Senate because of a variety of objections. (See news coverage below).

The news release from the Grocery Manufacturers Association makes the case for the bill. From “Food and Beverage Industry, Consumer Groups and Non-Governmental Organizations Call on Senate to Pass Bi-Partisan Food Safety Bill“: Read More

Who Needs the BPA Study? We’ll Just Ban It

By | Regulations | No Comments

The Washington Post today reports on objections to members of Congress trying to use food safety legislation to ban BPA, or bisphenol A, from food and beverage containers. Congress arrogating to itself the banning of specific chemicals is bad enough as a matter of public policy. It’s worse that a few lawmakers want to restrict a useful chemical that regulators in Europe and Canada have determined poses no threat.

So, at least a study, right?

From “Food safety bill’s ban on BPA resisted“:

The FDA said in January that it had “some concern” about possible health effects linked to BPA but did not have enough reason to restrict its use and would study the question over 18 to 24 months. The Environmental Protection Agency says that it, too, wants to study the matter. And the National Institutes of Health are spending $30 million over the next two years, also examining whether BPA poses a health risk.

“We trust the FDA to complete a safety assessment for BPA, and we don’t think the Senate should short-circuit and undermine the FDA,” Faber said. [Scott Faber is vice president for federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.]

The article cites a letter written by business groups, including the Grocery Manufacturers and National Association of Manufacturers, objecting to the BPA ban.

To be clear, we are prepared to support S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act in its current form. At the same time, we are concerned that amendments to ban BPA would undermine the goals of food safety legislation and delay final passage. BPA has been used for over 30 years to improve the safety and quality of food and beverages, including by providing protective coatings for cans and the metal closures for glass jars. Because adequate alternatives are not currently available, bills such as S. 593 would adversely impact an exceptionally wide range of canned and other packaged food, from fruits and vegetables to soft drinks and beer.

BPA is one of the many chemicals targeted by trial lawyers, whose earnings potential benefits from fomenting scares about the quotidian products that make life better.

Sue to Ban BPA and Then Sue Because It’s Banned. Brilliant!

By | Briefly Legal, Regulations | No Comments

The Maryland General Assembly, which ended its legislative session Monday, took a strong step to support the state’s citizens — those citizens who are trial lawyers, that is — by banning bisphenol A (BPA) in children’s products.

BPA is used to harden plastics and make them shatter-resistant.

Two things are well documented:

The cause of the anti-BPA litigation is served by legislatures banning the chemical, which then allows class-action attorneys to argue, “See, it must be dangerous. Look at all the states who cracked down on BPA.”

And here’s the great thing for personal injury lawyers. Once BPA is banned, many plastic products become more brittle and likely to break. So, if a child is somehow wounded, the manufacturers are responsible and must be sued.

It’s a win-win. Except for consumers. And manufacturers. And retailers. And the economy.

Afterthought: The new CPSC complaint database will probably enter into this process, too.

The BPA Myth

By | Briefly Legal, Regulations | No Comments

Iain Murray, National Review Online, “The BPA Myth“:

On Thursday, April 1, Time published a list of the “ten most common household toxins,” focused on plastics. It claimed, “Chemicals in plastics and other products seem harmless, but mounting evidence links them to health problems — and Washington lacks the power to protect us.” Top of the list was Bisphenol A, or BPA for short.

BPA is an important ingredient in many of the plastic products that have made modern life inexpensive and convenient. BPA is used to make shatterproof water bottles, CDs, food and beverage cans, sporting equipment, eyeglass lenses, and countless medical supplies. Environmentalists argue that it is a toxic substance that should be banned. But there is little scientific evidence that suggests BPA is harmful, and much that suggests it is not.

Murray’s column focuses on the excesses of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is pursuing different regulatory strategies in California to outlaw the additive that poses no health threat.

The state — which is mired in budget crisis — is wasting public funds to indulge the whims of a single special-interest group. Yet it is not just taxpayer money that is at stake. NRDC is sending a message to businesses nationwide: If you use BPA — whether to make toys, eyeglasses, or medical equipment — don’t invest here. For no company will invest in a state — and thus create jobs and expand facilities in that state — if the state is threatening to stop manufacturing in the near future. NRDC’s whim is helping to prolong California’s recession.

The campaign against BPA is another prime example of the workings of the combine of trial lawyers/activists/media, whose interests — ideological and pecuniary — are served by hype and hysteria. On that topic, these are good pieces:

Ending the Hysteria over BPA

By | Briefly Legal, Regulations | No Comments

From Michael Shaw at HealthNewsDigest.com, “It’s Time To End The Anti-BPA Hysteria,” covering numerous examples of the bad science, hyped reports, campaigning journalism and fear-mongering on the useful plastics additive, Bisphenol A.

Finally, “hysteria” is the best way to refer to the posture of Consumer Reports on BPA, as presented in the December, 2009 issue. The piece “Concern over canned foods” is rife with errors, but space allows me to mention only two.

Consumer Reports claims that dietary exposure to BPA is close to levels shown to cause harm in animal studies. Yet, the lowest oral exposures to BPA that cause adverse effects in animals are 500,000 times higher than typical human exposure.

Consumer Reports conflates oral ingestion data with animal studies in which BPA was directly injected into the blood, thus bypassing all metabolic pathways. As author Trevor Butterworth reminds us, every regulator and risk assessment in the world has rejected injection studies as a relevant method for assessing human risk from BPA, since our exposure to the chemical is through ingestion. Large, statistically rigorous, multi-generational reproductive toxicity studies have failed to reproduce the findings of injection-based studies.

Indeed, an EPA-funded rodent study recently published in Toxicological Sciences found that low-dose exposures of bisphenol A (BPA) showed no effects on the range of reproductive functions and behavioral activities measured.

See also this summary of a new EPA report from STATS, non-profit, non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service at George Mason University, “New independent study by EPA refutes BPA risk“: [A] second independent study by the Environmental Protection Agency, published in the leading toxicological journal, Toxicological Sciences, has failed to find evidence of the low-dose hypothesis claimed by environmental activists and widely reported in the media.”

Unfortunately, as former Ohio Treasurer Ken Blackwell has written, a BPA scare can help drum up business, for trial lawyers especially. See “A Chemical Scare Campaign Is Good Business for Some.”

The public would be well served by a high-profile, dispassionate assessment of these issues. We suggest a Senate hearing as venue.

David Michaels, President Obama’s nominee to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has been a prominent promoter of the “BPA is DANGEROUS” school of thought from his position as director of the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy.  A headline on a piece Michaels wrote for The Washington Post on BPA proclaimed, “If Two Similar Studies Completely Disagree, Look at How the Funders Framed the Issue.”

Agreed, SKAPP was formed with money from the trial lawyer industry and is supported by George Soros’ Open Society Institute. And Business Insurance reports, “Surging legal action over BPA targets manufacturers.”

So, yes, a Senate hearing would be a good place to explore the issues surrounding BPA, science and political advocacy as front for the litigation industry. How about at the Senate HELP Committee’s confirmation hearing for Michaels?

Alas, too late. Chairman Tom Harkin pushed through Michaels’ committee approval with no hearing.

Expected OSHA Nominee and Doubt, Doubt, Doubt

By | General, Regulations | No Comments

On July 28, President Obama announced his intent to nominate David Michaels to be Assistant Secretary of Labor, heading the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As we wrote at a Point of Law post, “Certitude is His Product,” Michaels writings evince his belief that businesses are always bad actors, and the activism of the  Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy he heads aligns closely with the causes of the trial lawyer machine that originally financed the group. For example, SKAPP has campaigned against bisphenol A, or BPA, a safe ingredient in many consumer plastics that the plaintiffs’ bar has worked to demonize and litigate into oblivion — but first big cash settlements.

Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com has now reported Michaels’ views on the Second Amendment, frequently a flashpoint in Senate confirmation hearings: “David Michaels and gun control.”

The controversial OSHA nominee and left-leaning public health advocate also seems to have strong views on firearms issues. That’s by no means irrelevant to the agenda of an agency like OSHA, because once you start viewing private gun ownership as a public health menace, it begins to seem logical to use the powers of government to urge or even require employers to forbid workers from possessing guns on company premises, up to and including parking lots, ostensibly for the protection of co-workers. In addition, OSHA has authority to regulate the working conditions of various job categories associated with firearms use (security guards, hunting guides, etc.) and could in that capacity do much to bring grief to Second Amendment values.

See also…


The acting administrator at OSHA is Jordan Barab, formerly a senior policy advisor for the House Education and Labor Committee. Barab previously blogged at Firedoglake, a prominent and vicious leftwing blog where we find him hosting an online chat with David Michaels on June 21, 2008, “FDL Book Salon Welcomes David Michaels: Doubt Is Their Product.

Here’s how Barab starts the discussion: “I first realized the power — and evil — of the dreaded practitioners of ‘manufactured doubt’ when I was working at OSHA in the late 1990’s on the ergonomics standard.”

By “dreaded practitioners,” Barab means corporations that challenge scientific studies used against them. So corporations are “evil,” in his view.

If Michaels is confirmed, Barab will remain at OSHA as second in command.

Scientific Integrity: Calif. Board Dismisses BPA as Health Threat

By | Briefly Legal, General, Regulations | No Comments

Big news from California, where a regulatory board has resisted the pressure from the trial lawyer/activist combine to declare BPA a chemical harmful to people’s health. (BPA, or bisphenol A, is used to harden plastics and prevent corrosion.) From AP, “Calif. regulators say BPA warnings not warranted“:

OAKLAND, Calif. — A California regulatory board voted Wednesday against placing Bisphenol A, a chemical used to manufacture plastic baby bottles and toys, on the state’s list of chemicals that are believed to cause reproductive harm.

The panel, comprised of seven physicians, unanimously decided that the chemical known as BPA should not be covered under Proposition 65, a voter-approved measure used by regulators to identify substances that can cause birth defects, developmental or reproductive harm.

The regulatory board is the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee, who can accurately be described as “independent scientific experts.” The fact they would decline to identify BPA as harmful under California’s overreaching Proposition 65 suggest there wasn’t much of a scientific case to made in the first place. (Details of the committee’s meeting and decision.)

More ….

The American Chemistry Council issued a statement from Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D. of the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. Excerpt:

The Proposition 65 conclusion today that bisphenol A is not a reproductive or developmental toxicant is consistent with the consensus view of regulatory bodies around the world on the safety of bisphenol A. From the US and Canada, to Europe, Japan and Australia-New Zealand, at least eleven national regulatory bodies have recently reviewed the science and concluded that bisphenol A is safe for use in consumer products.

ACC and its member companies have long-supported research to advance scientific understanding about chemicals and promote public health. We support the State of California’s comprehensive chemical management efforts and today’s decision that bisphenol A does not meet the criteria for listing under Proposition 65.

And from the North American Metal Packaging Alliance:

“We can now add California to the growing list of agencies that have concluded that BPA does not pose a risk to the general public,” said Dr. John M. Rost, NAMPA Chairman. “It’s important to note that when politics and media interference are taken out of the process, and safety decisions are made by qualified, independent scientific experts, we see the same conclusion time and time again — that BPA is safe.”

Of course, the crowd that normally shouts “scientific integrity” as a way to squelch debate now touts legislative action no matter the facts. From the lefty Daily Kos, diarist Elisa, “The good news is there is a BPA bill in California that, despite heavy lobbying by the chemical industry, narrowly passed the Senate and is up for a vote in the Assembly.”

Now, not speaking for the chemical industry, we would still assert the “heavy lobbying,” i.e., exercise of constitutional rights, comes on behalf of a safe chemical used to manufacture products desired by consumers. Consumers prefer affordable, durable bottles over those that shatter.

And, every legislative ban encourages class-action litigators who have already targeted BPA for a scare campaign to pave the way for lawsuits.