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Archive for May, 2011

The Environmental Health Research Foundation recently released an update on BPA, highlighting the fact that US agencies responsible for protecting human health – after numerous updates and multiple reviews of the science during both Democrat and Republican administrations – regard BPA as a negligible risk.

Joshua Sharfstein, then Deputy Commissioner of US Food and Drug Administration, in a 2010 press conference said, “If we thought it was unsafe, we would be taking strong regulatory action.”  In addition a recent paper analyzed the risk associated with potential dermal absorption of BPA.  The data indicate that skin exposure to BPA does not pose any special risk to human health.  The low levels that people are exposed to –whether through their skin, through their food, or both combined – do not raise concerns for human health.

Furthermore, the Foundation’s update reports on Coca-Cola’s recent decision to continue the use of BPA in their can linings.  Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Company, assured shareholders at the company annual meeting, “If we had any sliver of doubt about the safety of our packaging, we would not continue to use ”.  The Coke website continues,

“In the past couple of years, BPA has become controversial, even though reliable scientific evidence repeatedly reviewed by regulatory authorities indicates that the levels of BPA associated with can linings are safe.  While we are very aware of the highly publicized concerns and viewpoints that have been expressed about BPA, our point of view is that the scientific consensus on this issue is most accurately reflected in the opinions expressed by those regulatory agencies whose missions and responsibilities are to protect the public’s health.”

The Coke shareholders agreed that regulatory authorities – experts in science, toxicology, and health – know best and 75% voted to continue to use BPA.  Food accounts for roughly 95% of human exposure to BPA.   The tiny amount of BPA that could result handling thermal paper is much smaller than levels people are exposed to from food packaging – and those levels have been deemed safe by the US FDA, the US EPA, and the European Food Safety Administration (EFSA).

The publication also notes the growing chorus of pro-science critics of coverage of BPA in the media.   Several science writers including, Jon Entine and Trevor Butterworth, have noted the importance of properly evaluating the scientific robustness of large studies compared to small studies that lack statistical power and/or studies that cannot be replicated.  Their comments echo the results of a review by the independent German Society of Toxicology.  Their analysis of over 5000 studies points out a number of flaws in small-scale exploratory studies and concludes that BPA at current exposure levels does not pose a risk to human health.

So what does all this information about BPA mean for thermal paper?  In short, it means that BPA in thermal paper does not raise concern for human health.   Exposure to BPA from thermal paper is very low – much lower than exposure from our food – and even when combined, those levels fall far below the levels that could trigger concern, according to the world’s leading health authorities.  The US FDA, the US EPA and EFSA all agree that the low levels of BPA that people are exposed to pose no risk to human health.

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A new scientific study adds to the large and growing body of evidence that BPA in thermal paper does not pose any concern for human health.

The study by Mielke and colleagues models how BPA gets processed in the body, how efficiently it is metabolized, and the internal dose that is experienced by various organs (the pharmacokinetics) of ingested and dermally absorbed BPA.   They show that neither BPA absorbed through the skin nor ingested BPA presents a risk to human health.

For their model, Mielke et al., use the worst case scenario of a person with their hands and entire forearms in contact with thermal paper for 8 hours, without washing.  Their model indicates that the maximum concentration of BPA that could get into the body is 700 times lower than the concentration that may pose concern for the liver – the organ that is most sensitive to the effects of BPA.  Furthermore, the authors model the combined effects of dermal absorption and oral intake; their model predicts that even when combined, the two sources of exposure will not reach the levels that would trigger concern for human health.

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