UPDATE: There were some questions on my diary at Daily Kos as to the science that was presented. Research had been released by California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The scientists presented their evidence before the “science advisory board’s developmental and reproductive toxicant identification committee,” which composed of eight doctors from various fields of medicine. The doctors heard testimony from almost 30 people, including myself — an environmental advocate — and members of the canned goods industry. -Elisa
OAKLAND, Calif. — Despite day-long presentations of scientific data and heartfelt testimony by breast cancer survivors and concerned mothers, a panel of eight doctors unanimously voted against listing the chemical bisphenol A as a neurological and reproductive toxin under the state’s Proposition 65.
Proposition 65, which was passed by voters in 1986 to protect people from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm, requires the governor to publish at least annually a list of these toxic chemicals.
At least a dozen studies have suggested bisphenol A, or BPAs that are found in numerous plastic products, including baby bottles, sippy cups and the inside linings of cans, can cause infertility problems like low sperm count and miscarriage and increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. But the doctors sided with the industry, saying the animal sample sizes of these studies were too small and that the doses of BPAs were inconsistent to demonstrate a clear link between the chemical and these dire illnesses.
“Whether there is enough for me to say this is harmful is not clear,” said Dr. Dorothy Burk. “There is a pattern there that makes me concerned, but I am not sure it meets our standard.”
There were a lot of disappointed and ticked off people in the room. Dozens of people from breast cancer groups, doctors, nurses, health and environmental organizations and concerned parents, attended the hearing yesterday at the Elihu Harris State Building in downtown Oakland. A whopping 17 people testified in favor of listing BPAs as a toxin under Proposition 65. For what it is worth, Canada has already listed the substance as a toxin and even banned it in baby bottles. Canned food companies in Japan and the UK are reducing their use of BPAs to avoid regulation.
As someone who is not a scientist but has read plenty of articles about the hazards of BPAs, I was surprised by the California doctors’ decision. My understanding is for a chemical to be listed under Proposition 65 there simply needs to be evidence that it could potentially be harmful; not that it is harmful only after consuming certain amounts of the substance. Also, the doctors did not mention the cumulative effects of the chemical as it is everywhere, including water bottles and cups. The doctors did single out chemical workers as facing a higher risk of exposure, but did not feel compelled to give them any warning.
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. SB 797, which was introduced by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), would ban BPAs in baby bottles, toddler sippy cups and food containers. Here is an Assembly Member roster list to call in support of the bill.
Thanks all for your support!