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Plastics And Bisphenol A: Should We Trust The Government?

4245 words - 17 pages

The topic of this paper revolves around the controversy of a chemical called bisphenol A or BPA. Do plastic food contact materials containing BPA pose any hazard to human health? The controversy has been around for many years but was sparked by new research in the last few years. Today, with new developments in biomedical technology, scientists are able to examine BPA in a whole new level and far more in-depth than they were decades ago. The availability of access to information technology is also another factor that raises concerns and makes us become more aware of the risks this chemical poses.
This topic was chosen because of my personal interest in this matter and also because this ...view middle of the document...

The year 1891 was the time when bisphenol A was first synthesized to be used as a synthetic estrogen (Hallberg et al, 2008). After its properties were identified, BPA was initially used to assist women managing uneasy pregnancies in the 1930s. Other properties were not discovered until the 1950s, the year when BPA was used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and resins.
BPA can be found in plastics assigned with the recycle number of 7 and the lining of canned goods. Products of this designation number usually appear as clear and hard plastics, which represent most of our stuff in the kitchen—bottles, containers, disposable utensils, etc. Besides bisphenol A, there are other types of phthalates, chemicals used as softening agents for manufacturing soft plastics that are identified as endocrine disrupters. Endocrine disrupters have been studied for decades in order to find links between the chemicals and negative health effects. Though not all materials contain either BPA or phthalates, some types of plastics are still as dangerous as those made with the chemical.
Currently, the global annual production of BPA exceeds seven billion pounds and seems to be growing. I am not surprised why the chemical and plastics industries are trying very hard to deter new rules and regulations against the use of BPA. Another purpose of BPA that brings profits is its ability to prevent metal deterioration in canned goods, which results in long shelf lives (Williams, 2008). One of the rules is the requirement of stringent and thorough studies of BPA’s effects to human health. I think its effects to the environment should also be emphasized because some studies suggested that other endocrine disrupters, besides BPA, can also be found in the air, water and especially several rivers along the east coast caused by upstream industrial and agricultural dumping (Schnabel, 2008). The chemical and plastics industries’ claim is very much like the one made by the petroleum industry. That is, in this case, if they devote more effort to study the effects, they would have to spend more money to fund research, and the loss of profit would likely to result in the loss of jobs.
The danger of BPA was first discovered in the 1990s by accident caused by a temporary worker in the laboratory of Case Western Reserve University (Williams, 2008). A biologist who was conducting an experiment found that there were some abnormalities occurred with eggs of her experimental subjects, mice. She later was able to identify that chemicals leached from plastic cages and water bottles as the sources of the abnormalities in mice eggs. What happened was that the experimental materials were cleaned with the wrong type of detergent causing the chemical leach. This incident raised concerns about the safety of products made with BPA.
Since then many scientific studies have been conducted to assess the dangers of BPA. At this point, the first controversy began with sources of funding for...

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