Go Canada Go!

October 25, 2010

Torah Kachur

One week ago, Canada became the first country to label BPA as 'toxic' thereby pissing off a whole bunch of manufacturing sectors while making the world a better place.  In other words, it's business as usual.


BPA, or bisphenol A has been known since the 30's to have some funky effects in mice and other organisms.  Everything from causing changes in the brain that may affect learning and memory to a heightened potential for drug abuse.  It wasn't until 1997 that the widescale negative health effects of BPA were fully tested and scientists found a plethora of really negative health effects.  So finally, Canada has stepped up to the plate and banned BPA from commercial products - including epoxy coatings, movie tickets, baby bottles and commercial plastics.




It really wouldn't be a Monday at Science in Seconds without some mention of sex, and BPA has been shown to cause changes in the sex ratio of populations of fish, disruption of ovarian development in female mice and possible changes to the sexually dimorphic brain structures.  Prenatal exposure of BPA in monkeys has also been shown to affect sexual differentiation in male mice. 


BPA acts as an endocrine disruptor that messes with the natural balance of a female hormone called estrogen.  Estrogen is present in both males and females but at different natural doses, but BPA exposure appears to mimic estrogen and act in places and times where it isn't supposed to.  Hence the sex-changing fish.


Is this another fear-mongering, damn-the-man, scientists-are-awesome propaganda fight?  Hmmm...let me try and be clear..... N.O.


The average adult in the developed world is exposed to 0.008-1.5 µg/kg/day, which sounds like a really tiny amount.  Except that doses of under 1 µg/kg/day have been shown to cause permanent changes in the genital tract and breast tissue in mice.  No word if this explains the prevalence of moobs


Are you scared of BPA yet?  If you aren't, you should be.  And this is how to avoid it:  check labels of plastics for #7 and avoid like the plague, try not to scrub plastics with harsh chemicals or high temperatures and limit the amount of canned goods you consume.  Yes, this includes all soda pops - these are probably one of the most significant sources of BPA to the average adult North American.   Sorry Pepsi-gate, I just dealt another blow.



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