By studiously ignoring all the subtle hormone disruption effects of bisphenol A and concentrating on easily observable neurological effects, the CERHR essentially does the industry’s bidding.
A federal panel of scientists concluded Wednesday that an estrogen-like compound in plastic could be posing some risk to the brain development of babies and children.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is found in low levels in virtually every human body. A component of polycarbonate plastic, it can leach from baby bottles and other hard plastic beverage containers, food can linings and other consumer products.
Culminating months of scientific debate, the decision by the 12 advisors of the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction — part of the National Institutes of Health — is the first official, government action related to the chemical. Their recommendation will be reviewed for a federal report that could lead to regulations restricting one of the most used chemicals.
The scientists ranked their concerns about BPA, concluding they had “some concern” about neurological and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children, but “minimal” or “negligible” concern about reproductive effects. The findings put the panel roughly in the middle — between the chemical industry, which has long said there is no evidence of danger to humans, and the environmental activists and scientists who say it is probably harming people.
For a detailed look at how bisphenol research has been corrupted by industry sponsored “focused counter research” – where the goal is to show no effects and the experiment is tiled to ensure this goal, read this excellent article in the The Public Library of Science Biology Open Source Journal. Note, because it is Open Access, you can actually read it without selling a kidney! Some highlights…
The moment we published something on bisphenol A, the chemical industry went out and hired a number of corporate laboratories to replicate our research. What was stunning about what they did,” vom Saal says with a mix of outrage and bemused disbelief, “was they hired people who had no idea how to do the work. Each of the members of these groups came to me and said, ‘We don’t know how to do this, will you teach us?’”
The HCRA report, commissioned before Schwartz’s tenure, concluded that “the weight of the evidence for low-dose effects is very weak” . Industry groups hailed the report as a comprehensive review by independent experts and quickly disseminated its findings. Yet the “comprehensive” report reviewed just 19 of 47 studies available in April 2002, and when it was published more than two years later, three panelists asked not to be listed as authors.
The key to understanding bisphenol research is to realize that it is a hormone disruptor that works at low doses. At high doses, normal toxicological testing doses that is, it floods the hormone receptors and slows down the receptor pathways. So, the usual technique of testing in rats and mice at high doses and extrapolating will not work.