Monday, August 8, 2011

Wall Street Journal editorial: August 8, 2011

The Wall Street Journal

AUGUST 8, 2011

Postscript to a Panic

New science debunks a chemical scare.

Even by the standards of the environmental movement, the panic over bisphenol-A (BPA) was remarkable. A new study funded by that shill for business known as the Environmental Protection Agency has now debunked this chemical scare.

BPA has been used for five decades around the world and been found to be safe after extensive testing. In 2008, however, green campaigners abetted by trial lawyers began warning that BPA could "disrupt" hormones in the human body. BPA was said to be implicated in everything from cancer to obesity to impotence. Canada and several U.S. states banned its use in baby bottles. California Senator Dianne Feinstein tried to get it banned in the U.S. as well.

Too bad they didn't wait for the science. The most recent study—financed by the EPA, led by Justin Teeguarden at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and published in the journal Toxicological Studies—involved feeding subjects a BPA-rich diet for 24 hours. Researchers then monitored their blood and urine for traces of the chemical.

The result was BPA levels too low to detect—despite eating the stuff, a veritable worst-case scenario. Critics will no doubt point out that these results don't preclude potential long-term damage from the use of BPA in packaging. But the evidence suggests that not enough of it is present in the body to cause that kind of harm.

The results, which were duplicated in two government labs, come too late to help the likes of Sigg Switzerland USA, the U.S. distributor of those now-ubiquitous metal drinking bottles. Sigg initially benefitted from the scare as consumers ditched their plastic drinking bottles. But once it transpired that the lining of Sigg's aluminum bottles manufactured before August 2008 also contained trace amounts of BPA, its U.S. distributor was hit with lawsuits and public vilification that sent it into bankruptcy. Where does the economy get those jobs back?

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