The medical community has been keeping tabs on BPA, a dangerous chemical that was once widely used in baby bottles and still found in aluminum cans, and now a new study focused on children suggests it may be associated with heart and kidney disease later in life. Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
The controversial plastics chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been researched for years, and now a new study has critics once again calling for it to be banned from all food packaging.
BPA is primarily used in the lining of food packaging to prevent corrosion. But the danger is when BPA seeps into foods. Experts have long linked its consumption with neurological problems and other negative health effects.
Responding to public pressure last year, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, but critics say it did not go far enough.
Now, a study published online in Kidney International looked at more than 700 children and adolescents nationwide found that many had varying levels of BPA in their urine.
"This study adds further concern about the need to reduce BPA exposure in children and adolescents," says Dr. Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine, a co-lead author of the study.
Researchers say there is serious cause for concern because the chemical may cause protein to leak into the urine, which could possibly cause kidney and heart disease later in life.
"I think parents should be concerned about what their children eat and what their food comes in," Trasande says.
Canada and the European Union have banned the use of BPA in food packaging. In the United States, it is still used in aluminum cans, but a growing number of companies say they are looking for an alternative.
It's not easy to know if plastic has BPA, because products are not required to list what kind of plastic they use. Many microwaveable cups and dishes are made of polycarbonate, which has BPA.
An increasing number of environmentally friendly companies have "BPA-free" labels to ensure consumers that the chemical is not used in their products.