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This Man Wants You to Believe That BPA-Laced Plastic Is Harmless

Green Lifestyle  (tags: american, babies, business, BPA, cancer, children, clothing, environment, food, garden, globalwarming, health, protection, society, Sustainabililty, technology )

- 2015 days ago -
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an industrial chemical found in everything from food-can linings to cigarette filters to retail receipts.


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Kit B (276)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 11:33 am
Photo Credit: Sean Dreilinger/Flickr

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an industrial chemical found in everything from food-can linings to cigarette filters to retail receipts. Nationwide testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found it in "nearly all" of its subjects. A growing body of research has established BPA as an endocrine-disrupting chemical that does harm at tiny doses. But is BPA no big deal, after all?

That's the message of a presentation given at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science last month by Justin Teeguarden, a scientist with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a lab that operates under contract with the US Department of Energy. According to a PNNL press release about the presentation, Teeguarden analyzed 150 BPA exposure studies and found that "people's exposure may be many times too low for BPA to effectively mimic estrogen in the human body." The study's funder, the press release adds, was the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Teeguarden's presentation drew wide media attention. The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, Agence France-Presse, and the Independent all weighed in with comforting reports about the possibly innocuous nature of BPA. Writing on his Discover Magazine blog, Keith Kloor even chided me for not mentioning Teeguarden's work in my post last week about a recent study on BPA and other harmful chemicals.

But before you dust off that old BPA-laden sippy cup for your kid, it's worth digging a little deeper into the source. First of all, all of those media reports neglected to mention that Teeguarden's assessment has not been published—in a peer-reviewed journal or anywhere else.

Teeguarden declined to speak to me but did answer some questions over email. I asked him if his study had been submitted for publication. "Not published yet," he replied. I pressed him on the question of whether it had been submitted for publication. He didn't respond. When I asked him if he would email me a copy of the Powerpoint presentation he gave at the AAAS conference, he replied, "Happy to share post acceptance," meaning, I assume, that he would turn it over once it had been accepted for publication.

The lack of publication combined with Teeguarden's refusal to release a presentation he has delivered in a public forum make it extremely difficult to assess his project. Laura Vandenberg, a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts who has published research finding significant levels of BPA in human blood, told me that it's "highly unusual" for an unpublished work to generate so much attention. When a reporter asks her to comment on a study, she told me, "what I normally do is to ask for a copy of the manuscript," she said. In this case, of course, there is no manuscript available.

And it's not even the lack of peer review that makes it difficult to comment on the findings. "A lot of garbage gets published under peer review, but at least you can dig into the details," she told me. "This [Teeguarden's study] isn't written down anywhere."

And while the current study was funded by the EPA, in the past Teeguarden has received support from the plastics industry for research on BPA and other hormone disrupters—and has co-authored work with industry-employed scientists. This 2005 paper on the intricacies of measuring how humans metabolize BPA, for example, was funded by the American Plastics Council, the plastics division of the chemical industry trade group the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Teeguarden's co-authors on that paper included a researcher employed by Dow Chemical, a major maker of BPA. A 2004 paper co-authored by Teeguarden, this one on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, acknowledges funding from the American Chemistry Council. Another paper on endocrine disruptors, this one from 2002 and co-authored with a DuPont scientist, also disclosed funding from the ACC. These papers focus on the subtle differences of human and animal studies—and downplay the importance of animal studies. And R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company funded this 2013 Teeguarden paper on the merits of World Health Organization recommendations to "establish upper limits for known toxic chemicals in tobacco products," which the authors concluded would be ineffective.

And while Teeguarden's place of employment, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), does receive substantial funding from DOE, it operates under the wing of an entity called Battelle, which describes itself as the "the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, with over 20,000 employees at more than 100 locations globally." To run the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Battelle gets 69 percent of its $1.1 billion annual budget from the DOE. Other government agencies, including Homeland Security, provide another 23 percent, and private companies provide 8 percent of the lab's funding (breakdown here). Describing her and Teeguarden's employment status, Mary Beckman, who works as a science writer at the the lab, wrote in an email that, "Technically we are employees of Battelle, but I prefer to call myself an employee of PNNL."

Battelle is a vast, sprawling operation, and it's probably easy to overstate its ties to industry. "PNNL, as a federal research laboratory, and Battelle, as the world's largest independent research organization, stake their business and reputations on providing unbiased, fact-based scientific research," a Battelle spokesperson told me. But it's worth noting that in 2002, it conducted a "Design of the Comprehensive Chemical Exposure Framework" for the American Chemistry Council. The document seeks to guide the chemical industry on the question of safe levels of exposure to industrial chemicals. (The document doesn't mention BPA, but it does discuss another class of chemicals commonly found in plastics that are also feared to be endocrine disruptors, phthalates.)

All of which is merely to point out that Teeguarden shouldn't be thought of as a government scientist. He is a researcher who has collaborated with and been funded by the chemical industry, and works for an organization that also has worked with to the chemical industry.

So what of the findings Teeguarden presented to the AAAS? Vandenberg of Tufts stressed that while it's impossible to comment authoritatively on an unpublished study, she did attend his AAAS panel. She said that Teeguarden's presentation essentially dismissed thousands of papers—from epidemiological studies showing correlation between BPA exposure and various maladies, biomonitoring studies showing BPA in human blood, and studies showing harm to animals exposed to low levels of BPA—"all to hold up an idea that hasn't been published yet."

I also checked in with Kim Harley, associate director for health effects at University of California-Berkeley's Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health. Harley conducts epidemiological studies looking for links between pregnant women's BPA exposure and health effects in their kids.

She told me that there is a genuine debate about how much biologically active BPA people are exposed to—and that Teeguarden and Vandenberg represent opposite poles of it. Blood levels are more indicative of endocrine-disrupting activity than urine levels, which most researchers now use. It's very difficult, she said, to test for it in blood, because "there's a real chance for contamination" of data, and "researchers are still working out methodological issues." Teegarden co-authored a small study on humans in 2011 finding that traces of BPA in human blood were below the level of detection; Vandenberg co-authored one in 2007 finding them worrisomely high.

Harley says the jury is still out on who's right. Meanwhile, she and other epidemiologists keep piling up suggestive results. "Granted, they are associations and we can't prove causality," she said. "But when multiple, well-conducted studies start to show similar findings and when these findings are consistent with animal studies, the evidence starts to build up." Studies like one she published in 2012, which linked BPA exposure in pregnant women with thyroid dysfunction in male babies, and the just-released one by Columbia University researchers linking mother's exposure to asthma in kids "argue against Teeguarden's claim that BPA levels in humans are too low to affect health," she added.

Teeguarden and other researchers may yet show that our BPA exposure is too low to cause harm. But so far, they have proven nothing of the sort
**Links found withing body of article at VISIT SITE***

By: —By Tom Philpott | Mother Jones Magazine |

Anne F (17)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 11:40 am
Published studies are more valuable than announcements. Thanks for posting this important article and critique.

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 2:06 pm
PNNL -that L standing for LIES, no doubt. I wonder if there will also be legal struggle over testing blood or piss.
Very interesting article and a name to remember I guess, should be hard with THAT name. Thx Kit.

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 2:08 pm
* should NOT be hard *

lee e (114)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 2:13 pm
Very interesting, it seems as is becoming more popular these days, that scientists ought to be vetted prior to their being commissioned to make studies in areas they have been assoicated with, currently or in the past.
Several of the "scientific" studies on frack waste and environmental impact statements in that area have been clearly influenced by the scientists that are committed to the advancement of natural gas.
It's very disturbing to actually doubt the ability of science to make unbiased research studies! Thanks for this post!

Kit B (276)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 2:14 pm

Women and children are more affected by BPA. If you keep a water bottle in the car with you, and leave the water in the hot sun, toss it - do not drink that water that has been in a hot or warming plastic bottle. Toss the water, recycle the bottle.

Yvonne White (229)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 2:22 pm
LOL! That's a great gig - giving presentations with UNpublished manuscripts, studies, & findings totally WithOUT peer Review!!!! COOL! I could do that! :) "Teeguarden's presentation drew wide media attention.." I wonder HOW & WHY this wide Media Attention was amassed for an Unpublished, unreviewed little presentation?;)
Can Nuclear Fallout/Leakage proponents be next?;) I can workup a neato audio/visual :"Three Headed Fish are Smarter than a FOX News Anchor"!!


Kit B (276)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 2:27 pm

These paid stooges should not be confused with scientists.

Rose Becke (141)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 2:58 pm

pam w (139)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 6:04 pm
Let's see him feed it to his children....or his grandchildren!

Lin Penrose (92)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 6:12 pm
Thanks Kit. Your post led me think that perhaps there are multiple plans for reducing human population. At least a healthy species population. Take your time looking at all the ways of slow torture while alive and rather nasty slow deaths because of the strange items we have been ingesting, breathing, living with as part of our homes/shelters. Frankly, I'm amazed we haven't been dying off much faster. There may be a (or many) "bell curve" involved.

Perhaps those who desire financial gain, power and other little "perks" simply do not care about human or planet health. If I were to put humans individual choices about human reproduction against the knowing polluters of children and their parents..and the earth, for their personal gain? Might be a point this country's legal system hasn't pursued yet. Is there a World Court yet?

Kit B (276)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 6:26 pm

A back door eugenics program?

Robert B (60)
Wednesday March 13, 2013, 6:34 pm
Which industry is sending him his bonus check? I have to agree with Pam W. "let's see him feed it to his children.." His comments make as much sense as saying "a little rat poison can't hurt you".

Nimue Michelle Pendragon Gaze (339)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 1:40 am
More wankers who haven't got a clue. Noted thanks.

TomCat S (126)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 3:44 am
If he can lie like that, he mist be a Republican (or owned by one).

Gloria p (304)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 8:20 am
BPA is dangerous.

Jaime Alves (52)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 8:28 am
Noted, thanks.!!

Agnes N (703)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 8:47 am
Thanks Kit..

Stephanie Reap (192)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 8:57 am
why risk it?? money is pushing this forward

. (0)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 9:32 am
Definitely posted. I can smell the money from here. It's not just this guy but a lot of research scientists. You have to pay the bills somehow I guess and it Big Energy; Big Chemical - Big Everything that has all the loot. I think Lin Penrose hit the nail right on the head. They make big money on selling us products that will make us sick. Hence Big Pharma & Big Medicine then sell you a cure for all the diseases these plastic products create. The problem is that their cures in turn accentuate the problems. You need life insurance just in case so Big Life Insurance profits. Then of course you die before your time and the Tax Man wants his cut of any taxable income from your estate. Of course the politicians get their cut from all of the above in PAC contributions or through the Foundations such as Ford, Evergreen, Lucius Trust et al. Yep got to make a profit while we reduce the surplus population by 85-90% as of 2025 [UN Rainbow Conference 2002]

Nancy M (170)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 10:05 am
Do remember too that the EPA is really a poliitcal organization and not really a science organization.

Kit B (276)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 12:07 pm

Yep Nancy that is one ugly FACT. I would rather they just shoot me, than wondering when and what kind of cancer or other very expensive and painful disease awaits me in the future. For some of us as children we were sprayed with DDT, as we played outside. There is toxic food, abuse of antibiotics, frankenfish, abuse of anti-depressants ( so we can be happy while dying). Let's not forget the toxins in our water, air, soils and the oceans . Some times it's all a bit over whelming.

Nancy M (170)
Thursday March 14, 2013, 12:15 pm
I don't think it really started out that way but it is true. Worse than the FDA and you know how many here freak out about the FDA.

Ben O (140)
Friday March 15, 2013, 10:34 am
It's absolutely harmless! And that's why...
Sweden to initiate a total phase out of Bisphenol A
"...Sweden has earlier followed Denmark, France and Belgium in introducing a ban for Bisphenol A in food contact material foreseen for children below the age of three...."

Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 11:11 am

Harmless or as Socrates said, "I drank what"? Thanks for the additional information Ben.

Laurie H (818)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 5:08 pm
Thanks for this Kit--very interesting. We know the truth and we're not falling for lies. Toxins and poisons are everywhere these days!! Money sure talks, huh?.~~Thanks again~~

Lois Jordan (63)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 5:09 pm
Thanks Kit....very informative, and quite disgusting. If the article isn't enough to make me sick, apparently the water I drink, food I eat, (and everything I store it in) will.

Ness F (211)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 6:25 pm
My sentiments exactly Nimue

Nimue Michelle Pendragon Gaze (339)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 6:36 pm
Thank you, Ness, a green star back to you.

Jelena L (8)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 3:36 am
thanks, noted

Shailja Mukhtyar (90)
Thursday October 24, 2013, 6:16 am
As a physician, I know well the link between heated plastic water bottles, and estrogenic hormone release into the blood, increasing risk of breast cancer often w/ 20 fold the risks, even causing breast cancer in men. ..... but it is difficult to eliminate BPA.

Simple changes, use glass cooking/ storage jars & for microwaving when possible.

Surprise to note issues w / soda cans.... where we often still use 3 to 7 cans / wk!! way more than tomato soup!! One more reason to cut down on a leading cause of Diabetes!! ( one can soda contains about 10 spoons of sugar-- and sulphates & phosphates too... slow poisonous acids eating our teeth, & leaching bones of their calcium, not to forget, slowly taxing & destroying kidney function.

Mostly we use fresh or frozen fruits & vegies !!
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