Should Oregon’s legislators ban the chemical BPA?

For Release January 27, 2009

For more information, contact: Todd Wynn
T: 503-242-0900
F: 503-242-3882

Cascade Policy Institute Releases Report Detailing the Negligible Risks of Bisphenol A

During the past several years, a chemical used to make baby bottles and other plastic products has been making headlines. Environmental activist groups are proclaiming it can put infants at risk. Groups like the Oregon Environmental Council and the Oregon Toxics Alliance claim that this chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), is “toxic” and could cause cancer and a number of other ailments.

The Oregon legislature is now introducing Senate Bill 1032 to ban manufacturing, distributing or selling containers made with BPA. Because of the emotional aspect of “saving” children, this ban is specifically targeted for any product that is designed to be filled with liquid or food intended for consumption by a child under three years of age.

Bisphenol A is a widely used chemical found in the manufacturing of certain products, including polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. These plastics are used in a variety of products: baby bottles, five-gallon water jugs used in water coolers, medical equipment, sports safety equipment, cell phones and other consumer electronics, household appliances, and many other products. Its applications for food packaging and containers, particularly uses for water cooler jugs, canned foods, and baby bottles, have been the focus for environmental activist groups.

Cascade Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has released an extensive report detailing the benefits and the negligible risks of BPA use. The report clarifies why Oregon lawmakers and citizens should be wary of anti-BPA proposals.

BPA has a 50-year record of safe use and is one of the most extensively studied chemicals on earth. Less-tested or inferior alternatives will carry higher risks for consumers and children and are likely to come at higher prices.

The report’s author, Angela Logomasini, Ph.D., states: “”¦[S]tudies have been unable to establish a significant risk to humans even where humans were exposed to relatively high levels in occupational settings. The risks to consumers are much lower.”

Scientific panels around the world have reviewed, and continue to review, the complete body of evidence; and none report serious concerns about BPA. These include:

“¢ The European Union Risk Assessment. The EU’s risk assessment in 2006 found no compelling evidence of BPA-related health effects at estimated human exposure levels. In July 2008, the European Food Safety Authority reaffirmed the 2006 review.
“¢ National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Japan). This extensive study of the issue found that “the risks posed by BPA were below the levels of concern, it will be unnecessary to prohibit or restrict the use of BPA at this time.”
“¢ U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Several FDA reviews have maintained that current BPA exposures are too low to warrant significant health concerns. After its most recent review, the FDA initiated additional research in one area based on findings in recommendations for further study by the National Toxicology Program.
“¢ Health Canada: After its review of the science, Canada’s public health agency determined: “Based on the overall weight of evidence, Health Canada’s Food Directorate has concluded that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.”

The report also shows BPA has a wide range of valuable uses that will be at risk should these proposals move forward.

In light of the evidence presented, Logomasini concludes, “Despite considerable fears raised by activist groups and the press, the science does not warrant regulations on BPA. Instead, it shows that human exposure is too low to have any measurable impact. As a result, regulatory measures to ban or limit BPA use simply promise to raise prices for consumers and could have unintended, adverse health and safety consequences.”

Download the complete report here.

Cascade Policy Institute is a market-oriented policy research center based in SW Portland.

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Posted by at 05:50 | Posted in Measure 37 | 8 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Diamond Jim

    Yes, ban it as it effects the poor and women most.

    • Anonymous

      Jerry, as a supposed ex- high school principal, you should know better than to use “effects” when “affects” is called for.

  • Anonymous

    Screw this. I want the government to ban my coworker’s stinky ass perfume that makes me cough, wheeze, cry and sneeze.

  • David Appell

    Todd: Can we begin this conversation by you telling us which funders of the Cascade Policy Institute have an interest in the BPA issue, and to what extent they fund you?

    You’re interested in transparency, right?

    • Todd Wynn

      I have no idea what funders are interested in the BPA bill.

      I was interested in the issue and I happened to meet a chemical risk analyst who did excellent work. She did a favor for me and wrote this report for CPI to publish.

      As far as transparency is concerned, I have stated many times in the past that 990 forms are available online for anyone to view.

  • OI

    The reason that HB 1032 seeks to ban BPA in children’s products is not due to “the emotional aspect of saving children”. It is due to the fact that numerous studies have shown that BPA exposure is dangerous for children.

    In 2007, a consensus statement by 38 experts on bisphenol A concluded that average levels in people are above those that cause harm to animals in laboratory experiments.[28] A panel convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health determined that there was “some concern” about BPA’s effects on fetal and infant brain development and behavior.[10] A 2008 report by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) later agreed with the panel, expressing “some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A,” and “minimal concern for effects on the mammary gland and an earlier age for puberty for females in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.”

    The federal government has formally declared bisphenol A a hazardous substance as of October 2008 and is now placed on its list of toxic substances.

    I hope you feel good about the side you are taking here, Todd.

    • Todd Wynn


      Thanks for the information. But a few things need to be clarified.

      The Food and Drug Administration recently expressed “some concern” related to a few studies indicating that BPA is “weakly estrogenic” to rodents. But unlike rodents, humans metabolize and pass BPA quickly, limiting endocrine effects. In any case, the simple fact that a substance might be “weakly estrogenic” isn’t reason to ban it. If it were, we need to ban soy, peas, beans and a host of healthy foods.

      According to data from a 1999 National Academy of Sciences study, exposure to natural phytoestrogens is 100,000 to 1 million times higher than exposure to estrogen-mimicking substances found in BPA. It appears that BPA is less dangerous than soy milk.

      Scientific panels such as the European Union Risk Assessment, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Health Canada and many many others around the world have reviewed, and continue to review, the complete body of evidence; and none report serious concerns about BPA.

      I encourage you to read CPI’s report for more information.

    • Todd Wynn

      Also, according to data from Health Canada, a 22 lbs infant would have to drink 434 4 oz. bottles per day to reach the European food Safety Authority’s recently set “safe” intake level of BPA. This “safe” intake level already includes a 100-fold safety factor beyond the no effect level determined in studies on laboratory animals.

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