A recent article about the FDA reversing itself on the safety of bisphenol-A  echoes concerns I wrote about this chemical compound in December 2007 ("Lexan, Bisphenol-A and the Big Berky water filter"  )
Anyone who uses products that contact food or drink made with flexible plastic should give some thought to the bisphenol-A issue. This includes all types of soda, soft and drink bottles, but there is much more to it. It just might be that bispenol-A might be among the silent pathogens in our environment, responsible for the increase in cancer cases. Smoking has greatly decreased, but cancer has not. Science would logically indicate that in our environment must be either new carcinogens, or the public is increasingly exposed to more existing carcinogens.
What I had not considered in my article written in 2007 about Lexan and other plastic products was the impact that a bisphenol-A ban will have on numerous other plastic products. Hospitals and doctor offices generate a staggering amount of medical waste every day all around the world. Disposable plastics are a required medical evil in this era of endless communicable diseases.
Everywhere around you are flexible plastic products which can contain bisphenol-A. Consider the plastic wrap and foam trays used to package meat and vegetable trays in stores. Cold-cuts are packaged in direct contact with plastics. Chemicals with preservatives and salt are used to prolong shelf life. What is known about bisphenol-A leaching out of plastics into food consumed by millions? Does this also create complex carcinogens?
What about take-out food, such as Chinese? More and more Chinese food is packaged into flexible plastic containers instead of paper. Won-Ton soup is very hot when it's served in plastic take-out containers. Is it possible heat from soups and hot foods accelerate the leaching of bisphenol-A into food?
Take-home fish-fries are usually packaged Styrofoam containers. What effects does the heat from hot fish just removed from 400 degree hot oil have on the plastic? How much bisphenol-A is leached out into the food? Ever open a container and pick up a plastic scent? What does the hot oil that drips from the fish do to the plastic? It is well-known that heat accelerates chemical reactions - and with it the breakdown of plastic compounds.
Hot coffee has been served for decades in Styrofoam cups. Coffee is highly acidic and could rapidly leach bisphenol-A from the containers into the coffee. If this coffee and bisphenol-A creates a carcinogen, countless millions of coffee drinkers from drivers to office workers to construction workers who consume this everyday may be unknowingly shortening their lives.
Here are a few commonly medical products used daily in doctor's offices and/or hospitals - all made with flexible plastic:
1. IV bags. Everything from simple saline, morphine, anti-biotics, blood donor collection bags and many more all use flexible plastic bags. Only a few extremely powerful drugs which have a PH level that will react with plastic, such as the anti-biotic Methicillin must be packaged in glass IV bottles. Everything else is in plastic. The real question is - has any company or university tested for bisphenol-A leaching out of the plastic into the medicine?
2. IV tubing - including the end of the IV line itself which inserts into a vein in the patient. This tiny plastic flexible tube smaller than a regular pencil lead left in a patient's vein after an insertion needle is used to deposit it there. It can remain in the body in contact with the blood stream in a vein up to three days (or more for some institutional standards) before it must be removed.
3. Syringes are used to inject just about every drug there is. Inside the syringe are synthetic polymer seals for the piston.
4. Plastic stents are used to keep veins or arteries open. These can remain in the body for the life of the patient.
5. Respiratory apparatus - hoses, nasal cannulas, masks, etc... are made of flexible vinyl or other polymers and are used for administering oxygen.
6. Numerous throw-away, one-time-use medical devices such as pre-loaded incision staplers used in operating rooms during surgery.
7. Catheters and other tubing inserted into the body during treatment temporarily or permanent .
8. Lens implants for the human eye for curing cataracts. These must be flexible in order to focus light on the retina. It's unknown if lens implants contain bisphenol-A, but fortunately these do have a great track record in restoring eyesight.
9. Food bags use special esophageal tubes to feed patients who cannot swallow or are in comas. Tubing is inserted through the nose and down the esophagus into the stomach. These remain in place for long periods of time for some patients who cannot eat.
It simply comes down to one thing - if something is made of plastic and it's flexible, it might contain bisphenol-A. Are we facing a medical equivalent of "Don't ask, don't tell" with this issue?
Certainly there are other flexible plastic medical devices used in doctor's offices and hospitals. For medical applications, biomedical engineers must specify plastic products for manufacturing medical devices which only use FDA approved materials. These approved materials must withstand the salinity and various chemicals found in the human body. It is not known at this time which medical devices contain bisphenol-A.
The impact caused by the FDA removing bisphenol-A from plastic products will be difficult to completely implement with patient care products, if not impossible.
Only scientific testing will be able to prove whether detrimental effects are taking place. Scientific studies of the effect of cell phones on humans and animals in America all seemed to conclude there is little or no effect from microwaves on mammals. Yet in Europe test results concluded that tumors were formed. A connection has been found between the results of microwave radiation and who funds the studies. If you have doubt, consider how your microwave oven cooks meat.
How many decades passed until the serious health effects of smoking were revealed?
Logically the implication of bisphenol-A effects makes us ask the following questions:
Will the public ever be told about the effects of bisphenol-A on human beings?
Who will fund the numerous studies and tests required to find out?
Whether or not this is ever revealed, the safest thing is simply to limit personal exposure to flexible plastics containing any food or drugs.
I say let's bring back glass containers. These are highly recyclable, and when melted down are absolutely sterilized even against the most vicious diseases like prions that cause CJD, commonly known as mad cow disease. The only drawback with glass is the extra energy required to recycle it. But doesn't that extra energy have a much lower price tag when compared to the health care costs induced by the effects of bisphenol-A?
 - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/