A new study released today in Environmental Health Perspectives is leaving consumers uneasy.
The report finds that many plastic products can release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen. The study found these chemicals even in products that didn’t contain bisphenol-A (a/k/a BPA (a compound in certain plastics that mimics estrogen).
The study release today doesn’t look at health risks. Instead it simply asks whether common plastic products release estrogen-like chemicals other than BPA. The researchers bought more than 450 plastic items from stores including Walmart and Whole Foods. They chose products specifically designed to come in contact with food, products ranging from baby bottles to deli packaging and flexible bags. The research found that more than 70 percent of the products released chemicals that acted like estrogen prior to any exposure to conditions such as heat stress from the diswahser or microwave.
Although the report is subject to criticism it raises a critical question – who is in charge of regulating the content of plastics that come in contact with food? The National Toxicology Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has reviewed BPA’s affects in the past. The question then has been tossed between the FDA and EPA. It may be time for the two agencies to coordinate efforts. Until then consumers should avoid exposing plastic to heat and limit use of worn or scratched plasticware.
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