The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Chemical in everyday plastics may be toxic

Babies sucking pacifiers, athletes drinking from water bottles and sick people heating soup cans could be putting a chemical that may cause reproductive harm, cancer and nerve damage in their mouths.

Bisphenol A is a chemical compound commonly used to increase the durability of plastics.

BPA is found in many products including water bottles, pacifiers, toys, CDs and dental sealants. The chemical compound is also used in coating the inside of tin cans.

Although the products that contain traces of BPA are used for practical purposes, researchers in 2006 discovered laboratory rats that were fed small amounts of BPA showed reproductive damage.

An increased risk of contracting breast cancer was recently linked to BPA. Children, who are more exposed to BPA, run an increased risk of possible defects.

?With the risks research has uncovered, the question is why the public hasn’t been informed.

The answer is that there’s a lack of knowledge about BPA and how it could affect people who use products laden with the chemical compound.

Antonio Machado, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at CSUN, may be one of the few people who can explain BPA and its effects.

“BPA is an endocrine disrupter, specifically it activates estrogen receptors, which means that it has the same effects that estrogen has on the human body,” Machado said.

BPA, the female sex hormone, could cause an increase in estrogen for people who ingest the chemical compound.

Scientists first researched BPA as possible synthetic estrogen until they found a more suitable chemical compound.

Machado’s research uncovered that not only does BPA increase estrogen levels, it decreases androgen levels in males. Androgen is responsible for the development of sperm.

“BPA hits us with a double whammy in that it is both estrogenic and anti-androgenic, which of course causes the decrease in testosterone,” Machado said.

?Possible reproductive defects include decreased sperm count and an early onset of puberty. But BPA defects are still being questioned.

“What is known is that it does have estrogenic and anti-androgenic effects,” Machado said. “What is speculated (are) the defects that come from this.”

?Research of the chemical compound has been the subject of controversy for years because it has only been tested on laboratory rats. Determining how much of a dose of BPA is unsafe is also controversial.

Recent research has shown that minute amounts of BPA are more dangerous than increased levels of the chemical.

“It is very difficult to scientifically test such low doses properly, especially when you are going from animals to humans,” Machado said. “The data is arguable, but the concerns are real anytime you have high exposure to a chemical there is reason for concern.”

Last December, the city of San Francisco banned children’s products made with BPA. The ban was repealed during the spring because enforcing it proved to be difficult.

Many consumer items contain BPA, which would require many toys and baby products to be recalled if it were dangerous. Europe is trying to put a ban on the use of BPA.

Some question whether enough research has been done on the chemical compound to justify being concerned about BPA in products.

Paul Shin, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at CSUN, said, “It is everywhere (and) so widely used that you can’t avoid it.”

“That’s the double-edged sword of technology that we have to face,” Shin said. “We can’t have our cake and eat it too.”

Shin said the possibility of BPA being hazardous to people’s health is an inevitable consequence of making advancements in chemistry.

“Should we go out and start banning these things? I don’t think so,” Shin said. “We should have more studies to determine the risks, but have to be careful of who is paying for it.”

A Web site that’s supported by BPA’s manufacturers shows more information about why the chemical compound is controversial.

Proper research has yet to be done on this chemical, the Web site www. shows. No secure findings have been made, and lot information is based on speculation.

Lack of substantial research on BPA was the determining factor for CSUN students who were asked whether they though the chemical compound is hazardous.

“I would need to see more research and find out more about the topic,” said Claudia Reyes, senior family and consumer sciences major.

“It is kind of hard to say if I would stop using water bottles or if I have a baby if I am going to use baby bottles,” Reyes said. “I would need more research.”

Solid evidence may be one solution to calling attention to this potentially harmful chemical, along with decreasing continuous exposure to BPA.

CSUN sells products on campus that are manufactured by PepsiCo, Inc., which doesn’t use BPA in its plastic bottles.

People concerned with determining whether a product is laden with BPA can check its recycling symbol, which can be found on almost any product.

Products laden with BPA would have the number seven inside the triangle of the recycling symbol. Canned goods are also carriers of BPA, which is used to protect food from touching tin.

“All the information is out there. You can use your diligence to research it with an open mind,” Shin said. “Every person has to make their own decision for themselves and their family.”

Avent, Dr. Brown’s, Evenflo, Gerber and Playtex are some of the companies that use BPA in their products. Parents who’d be interested in buying baby products without BPA can buy glass baby bottles.

Machado recommends that plastic baby bottles be washed gently, not scrubbed. BPA is more likely to leak out when the plastic has been worn away.

Parents can also go to to look for products that aren’t laden with BPA.

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