Polycarbonate Water Bottles, BPA, and Safety

Recently there has been some media coverage surrounding the safety of polycarbonate water bottles. Here is what we have learned:

Polycarbonate is a lightweight shatterproof stain resistant plastic with glass-like clarity that has been used for more than 50 years to make thousands of everyday items including dental sealants, liners of food cans, CDs, cell phones, safety glasses, and food containers such as baby bottles, water bottles and food storage containers. Polycarbonate is manufactured from a chemical called bisphenol A or BPA.

During these past 50 years polycarbonate and BPA have been studied extensively for health and safety by the government, by private researchers and by industry. Most agree that BPA can disrupt the hormonal system but there is a wide divergence of opinion between scientists as to whether or not a health risk is posed by the small amount of BPA that might migrate from a polycarbonate container into whatever food or liquid the polycarbonate contains.

The government regulatory agencies in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan, among others, still contend, even today, that polycarbonate containers are safe.

So why has the controversy surfaced now?
On April 14, 2008 the National Toxicology Program (NTP) – an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services – released a draft report of a new study they conducted. In contrast to previous studies that have concluded that that low exposure to BPA did not pose a health risk, this report concluded that there was “some concern” – particularly during development – and that further study is warranted. Download a pdf of the entire draft brief report here. Here is a key excerpt:

The scientific evidence that supports a conclusion of some concern for exposures in fetuses, infants, and children comes from a number of laboratory animal studies reporting that “low” level exposure to bisphenol A during development can cause changes in behavior and the brain, prostate gland, mammary gland, and the age at which females attain puberty. These studies only provide limited evidence for adverse effects on development and more research is needed to better understand their implications for human health. However, because these effects in animals occur at bisphenol A exposure levels similar to those experienced by humans, the possibility that bisphenol A may alter human development cannot be dismissed.

What is Printable Promotions Doing?
We recognize that many consumers agree with the FDA and the studies supporting the safety of polycarbonate water bottles. Accordingly, as long as the FDA continues to maintain that polycarbonate water bottles are safe, we will continue to sell our current stock.

However, many of the manufacturers we work with have already discontinued polycarbonate bottles, or have plans to do so. Unless the health risks raised in the draft brief are studied further and determined to be of no concern, we expect most polycarbonate bottles to be discontinued by the end of 2008 in favor of alternative materials.

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