If you live in Canada, there’s a good chance that you’re exposed to BPA. We know that because, late last year, Health Canada released its Fifth Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada.
Well over 100 biomonitoring studies conducted worldwide have consistently demonstrated that human exposure to BPA is extremely low and well within safe exposure limits. Now a new, small-scale study suggests that human exposure to BPA has been “dramatically underestimated.” Regrettably, the study has been misinterpreted in the media, turning it into the “scare story” du jour.
Numerous scientific studies and media stories report that we are exposed to chemicals in our daily lives. While these reports may be true, are they important for our health? And how do we know?
Many chemicals are naturally present in our diets and serve a beneficial purpose. For example, vitamins and essential elements are necessary for our health, and many chemicals account for the appealing tastes and aromas of everything we eat and drink. Other chemicals, for example trace levels of metals and synthetic chemicals, are contaminants that are not naturally present.
Just about everyone has heard of bisphenol A (BPA.) What most of us want to know is whether we are exposed to BPA and, if so, whether those exposure levels are safe. Exposure levels do matter, as succinctly stated by a basic principle of toxicology – “the dose makes the poison.”
As its name implies, one of the responsibilities of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is “ensuring the safety of our nation's food supply.” Within FDA’s purview for this important responsibility are ingredients that are intentionally added to foods (e.g., the ingredients shown on packaged food labels) as well as materials such as packaging that contact food.
It’s been a long time coming but the results are in and available for the world to see. The CLARITY Core study on BPA has now been published in peer reviewed scientific literature. This marks the completion of a multi-year study that was conducted by senior scientists with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
That may not sound like a big deal. After all, scientific studies are published every day with no fanfare received (or deserved). But this one is different and worth every bit of your attention.
According to the headline on a recent press release, exposure to common chemicals in plastics is linked to childhood obesity. The headline further states that a new study “finds replacement chemicals for BPA aren’t safe for consumers.” Not surprisingly, journalists uncritically took the bait and reported the story just as written in the press release.
Che-mo-pho-bia: abnormal or excessive fear of chemicals (Merriam-Webster)
The term chemophobia has been defined by some as an irrational fear of chemicals. On the other hand, chemophobia might also be considered as a perfectly rational response to media stories related to chemicals. It’s easy to find scary stories about the hazards of chemicals, but it’s uncommon to find stories that inform the public about how chemicals help to make our lives better and safer.