The Perils of Bisphenol A: What You Need to Know

How Long Has BPA Been in Use?

BPA was first invented in 1891 , but it wasn't until the 1940s and 1950s that it started being used in food and beverage containers. According to an Environmental Working Group timeline of BPA in the U.S.A., in 1997 an FDA study showed BPA leaching from the metal lining of infant formula cans. Two years later, Consumers Union confirmed that BPA leaches from plastic baby bottles when they are heated. In 2008, Congress launched an investigation into BPA in infant formula. The NTP issued its report later that year, and retailers start pulling BPA-products from their shelves.

What Does the FDA Say About BPA?

Many scientific and regulatory communities disagree regarding BPA's safety. Officially, the Food and Drug Administration states that products containing BPA "are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from food contact materials, including for infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects."

However, the FDA's own Science Board Subcommittee on BPA says more research is needed to determine the effects on children and babies in utero and indicates that the exposure level considered "safe" might be set too high. The panel also says the FDA did not include in its study recent research into the health effects of BPA exposure, and that its assessment creates "a false sense of security" regarding BPA's safety.

What Is Being Done to Determine BPA's Safety?

In a letter to the National Toxicology Program, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for more research into BPA's safety. The FDA says its research into BPA is ongoing.

Meanwhile, Canada has banned the use of BPA in baby bottles entirely. In the U.S., municipalities are taking it upon themselves to limit BPA exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group, Connecticut, Chicago, Minnesota and Suffolk County, N.Y., have all banned BPA-laced children's products. Similar legislation failed in California in 2009. The Connecticut attorney general was able to convince baby-product manufacturers Avent, Disney First Years, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Playtex and Evenflow to discontinue the use of BPA in their products.

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