U.S. Panel Clears Plastic Chemical But Concerns for Young Children Remain

August 10, 2007

A federal advisory panel has found no strong evidence of health hazards from a chemical commonly found in plastics, but left the door open for further investigation.

At issue is a chemical called bisphenol A, which is in products ranging from baby bottles to the coatings inside food cans. Some research links the chemical to reproductive abnormalities and other health problems in animals. That and widespread exposure to the plastic prompted the National Toxicology Program to appoint an expert panel to review the science.

The panel found little if any reason for concern for the general population.

But when it came to exposure for fetuses or young children, the panel found what it called “some concern” about links to neural or behavioral problems, ranking the evidence midway on a five-step scale, said Michael Shelby, the toxicology program’s risk-evaluation chief.

The National Toxicology Program, a division of the National Institutes of Health, will review the findings and open them for public comment before making a final determination. That scientific review then is used by regulatory agencies in setting safety standards.

The plastics industry has long defended bisphenol A. Critics have contended the review was skewed toward industry, and denounced the findings.

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