Is Bisphenol-A The Next Dental Amalgam?

BPA safety fearsThe chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) made headlines last year as a possible health risk – and now it’s back in the news. BPA is added to many plastics and can be found in lots of products, including food containers, baby bottles, and dental sealants and composite.

Will this call the safety of modern dental products into question?

Unfortunately, evidence indicates that BPA can leach from plastics and be absorbed by the human body. It mimics the effects of the female hormone estrogen, and animal studies have linked high levels of BPA with all sorts of unpleasant health problems.

Baby bottles seem to be the most worrisome product, releasing even higher levels of BPA when heated or filled with hot liquid. [Note: Not all baby bottles contain bisphenol-A.] And BPA’s hormone-like effects are likely to be even more harmful to a developing baby than a full-grown adult.

Last year, the FDA declared that the amount of BPA released by consumer products is too low to cause health problems. In a June 2008 statement to the US House of Representatives, the FDA’s Associate Commissioner for Science, Dr. Norris Alderson, said:

At this time, FDA is not recommending that consumers discontinue using food contact materials that contain BPA. Although our review of the NTP reports is continuing, a large body of available evidence indicates that food contact materials containing BPA currently on the market are safe, and that exposure levels to BPA from these materials, including exposure to infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects…

FDA’s reassessment of possible “low-dose” effects of BPA concluded that the current level of exposure to adults and infants is safe as defined in 21 CFR §170.3(i).

However, the FDA is now reviewing that decision. In fact, a recent Harvard University study found elevated levels of BPA in students’ urine after only one week of drinking from plastic containers.

Many cities and states are considering banning the additive in some products, particularly baby bottles.

  • Canada banned the import and sale of baby bottles containing BPA
  • New York’s Suffolk County passed a BPA ban
  • Minnesota has banned BPA-containing plastic beverage containers for children under 3 (effective for manufacturers January 2010; for retailers January 2011)
  • Chicago just passed a city-wide ban on selling baby bottles and children’s sippy cups that contain BPA (effective January 2011)
  • Connecticut‘s House will ban BPA from plastic containers used by babies and children (effective October 2011)
  • California‘s Senate narrowly approved a bill banning BPA that still needs to be approved by the state Assembly
  • There’s more and more talk of a nationwide ban

A number of companies are voluntarily removing or limiting BPA. Water-bottle manufacturer Nalgene has announced it will remove BPA from its products. Both Walmart and Kids-R-Us will stop selling baby bottles that contain BPA. The six largest baby bottle manufacturers will remove the ingredient. Even Sunoco has said that it will not supply manufacturers with BPA if the resulting products are intended for children under 3.

Next week we’ll take a look at how this may apply to dental composites and sealants.

About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.

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