BPA: The cigarette of tomorrow?

A provision within the food safety bill, which recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives, could result in a ban on the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA).

BPA is found in hard plastics, like baby bottles and children’s toys, as well as the linings of food and drink containers and the glossy coating on some paper. Though deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, that designation was based largely on industry-led studies, and the agency has been widely criticized for ignoring independent research that has connected BPA to things like heart disease, diabetes, reproductive development issues in babies and fetuses, miscarriages and breast cancer. The chemical is found in about 90 percent of the population.

Now, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) has inserted a provision into the food safety bill that, if approved by the Senate, would give the FDA until the end of 2009 to determine whether BPA is safe. If it can’t make a determination, then it has to restrict the use of the chemical in products geared toward pregnant women, babies and children.

Some retailers and manufacturers, as well as Canada, the states of Minnesota and Connecticut and the city of Chicago have already banned the use of BPA in children’s products, and other regions are considering such a ban.

Perhaps BPA is the cigarette of tomorrow, leaving children of the future to ask their parents with surprise: “You used that while you were pregnant?”