WASHINGTON — Despite ongoing safety concerns from parents, consumer groups and politicians, a chemical used in baby bottles, canned food and other items is not dangerous, federal regulators said Friday.
Food and Drug Administration scientists said the trace amounts of bisphenol A (BPA) that leach out of food containers are not a threat to infants or adults. The agency acknowledged that more research is needed to fully understand the chemical's effects on humans and that "there are always uncertainties associated with safety decisions."
The report stands in contrast to more than 100 studies performed by government scientists and university laboratories that have found health concerns associated with BPA. Some have linked the chemical to prostate and breast cancers, diabetes, behavioral disorders such as hyperactivity and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.
The FDA had previously declared the chemical safe but agreed to revisit that opinion after a report by the federal National Toxicology Program said there was "some concern" about the chemical's risks to infants. A final version of the toxicology program's findings is expected next month.
The plastic-hardening chemical, similar to the hormone estrogen and in commercial use since the 1950s, is found in many everyday items, including cars and compact discs, and is used to seal canned food and to make shatterproof bottles. One federal study estimated that the chemical is present in the urine of 93 percent of the population.
Canadian regulators recently decided to ban the chemical in baby products. Wal-Mart, the United States' largest retailer, and Toys R Us, the largest toy seller, have said that by January their shelves will be free of children's products containing BPA.
Information from the Washington Post and the Associated Press was used in this report.