Student Name

Environmental Science 150

News Review #5

Due: June 8, 2006

 

Publication: Environmental News Service

Date Published: June 2, 2006

Author: Author Unknown

Title: Chemical in Plastics Linked to Prostate Cancer

 

Link to article:  http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2006/2006-06-02-03.asp

 

1.  This article focuses on a manufactured compound bisphenol A (BPA) that is used to make different kinds of plastics.  This compound is said to cause future prostate cancer during pregnancy in the unborn child.

 

2.  First off, the human population will be affected.  If this toxic compound does cause cancer, many future generations will be affected by it.  The medical providers might have more patients on their hand, which will cost more to health insurance companies.  Also, if production of plastics decreases in order to stop the usage of BPA, then the economy could go down.

 

3.  After its discovery of being toxic, BPA was researched and many scientists agree on its harmful nature.  This, however, has not stopped the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from banning its use in packaging.  This could be dangerous; however, plastic companies think otherwise.  They believe that the amounts that migrate from products are minute and will not affect anybody in a negative way.  They refer to studies that support this.  This also brings up a valid point about BPA.

 

4.  It seems like the Food and Drug Administration or other agencies that are involved in the safety of chemical use should be mentioned.  It appears as if either they have not made any comments about the situation, or they are just ignoring it.  There doesn’t really seem to be any legal actions that have been proposed.

 

5.  Both sides use science to argue their point.  Those against BPA point to numerous experiments that show rats have harmful reactions when exposed to BPA.  They also go deeper and try and explain these harmful effects with the altered gene expression.  The plastic companies also use science by pointing to experiments that explain that even if BPA is harmful, the exposure is so little it won’t matter.

 

6.  The plastic companies would obviously want to keep BPA.  Or at least have a chance to substitute something else without having to completely restructure their manufacturing process, which would cost them money.  The government also might not want to ban BPA because it could cause a fall in the economy because of decreased plastic production.

 

7.  I believe at the moment, its hard to say the severity of the situation.  Nothing appears to point strongly to the harmful effects BPA is having at the moment; however, studies have shown BPA to be harmful.  It would be hard to halt production of plastics, but BPA could maybe be replaced.  In the mean time, more studies should be done on the safe level of BPA and how much BPA is migrating from plastics to consumers.  With this information, a better solution could be proposed.