Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sending Out an S.O.S. - Message in a Bottle

In April this year, bisphenol A, a chemical used in plastic containers and in cans, got major media scrutiny, as it had been identified as a dangerous substance that is found in drinking bottles and many other children's and household containers. Bisphenol A has been linked to cancer and reproductive problems in animals. The Globe ran a story on it, but you can not access it without paying, so here is some key information from that article that is worth re-iterating:

Low amounts of bisphenol A have been suspected to be associated with:
  • the early onset of puberty
  • declining sperm counts
  • and the huge increase in breast and prostate cancer

In April, it looked like this chemical would surely be in the news again, and affect the bottling and canning industry. Today, and several days ago, bisphenol A has indeed gotten more national attention. This is good news. The lead story on the Yahoo Canada home page is "Canadian retail chain pulls plastic water bottles".

Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op became the first major Canadian retailer to stop selling products that contain bisphenol A over fears the chemical can leach from plastic food and water containers.

"Inconclusive science and regulatory uncertainty presently surrounds bisphenol-A (BPA)," the company said in a statement.

Here are a couple of extra pieces of information of interest from the Yahoo site:

Besides hard-plastic water bottles, bisphenol A is also used in some baby bottles and the linings of some food cans, including most major brands of infant formula, according to a study co-released this week by Environmental Defence Canada and the Washington-based Environmental Working Group.

"We have study after study showing that this chemical is toxic,... and there are safe and available alternatives that are affordable, (ed. emphasis)" said Aaron Freeman, policy director of Environmental Defence Canada.

Another piece of promising news is the federal government's creation of a chemical substance web site. Harper's government appear to failing in the eyes of the world on its role in climate change. However, some credit to them, on what appears to be the right direction in protecting Canadians from harmful substances. From CTV on Saturday,

The government has pledged $300 million towards assessing 200 potentially harmful substances on the market, and regulate the most toxic within the next few years.

Here is a list of other potentially hazardous substances listed on the government chemical substance web site as Chemical Substances of Interest to Canadians.

Here's more on bisphenol A from the Gov. of Canada web site.

There is a number 1 - 7 system used on bottle bottoms to represent what kind of plastic is in it. Check the number at the bottom of bottles for information on what type of bottle you're using. Bisphenol A is a polycarbonate bottle, that is # 7 on the bottom of the bottle. Here's a link for more detailed information on what these numbers mean. No. 1 bottles should never be reused.

Pop drinks like Coke, add bisphenol A to the linings of cans to prolong shelf life. It helps make food and beverage companies extremely rich and is dangerous for people at the same time.

Hmm, there are messages in the bottles. See if you have unlucky 7. Bottoms up.

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