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Tagged with BPA

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Keeping it in the family: BPA’s effects might last in our bodies for generations

Image by Shutterstock.

Back in May, I pointed to a study on a farm chemical that was found to cause physiological and behavioral changes in rats. Worryingly, the effects persisted for generations after a single exposure (it was the first time this phenomenon was extensively documented in an industrial chemical). In an email at the time, one of the study authors said, “Many other environmental compounds promote these types of phenomena ... Future science and policy needs to consider such phenomena and mechanisms.”

It looks like he was right. Now, another study has found evidence of multi-generational effects of exposure -- in this case, to that ubiquitous endocrine disruptor you love to hate: bisphenol A (BPA). The research appears in the peer-reviewed journal Endocrinology and was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Virginia. Its title says it all: "Gestational Exposure to Bisphenol A Produces Transgenerational Changes in Behaviors and Gene Expression."

There are several interesting (and ominous) aspects of this new research that should give us all pause. The first is that researchers looked specifically at genetic effects. The previous study I cited examined behavioral and physiological effects alone. And yes, the scientists found evidence of genetic alterations from BPA exposure. But the truly significant aspect of the study comes from the fact that the researchers replicated in mice the low-level, chronic exposure that humans experience in their day-to-day lives. It was this level of exposure that caused the genetic and behavioral changes they saw.

Try not to get scared. I dare you.

Read more: Food, Living

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Can ‘veggie prescriptions’ really make people healthier?

When it comes to the health of the nation, asparagus no expense.

With all the talk of taxing and banning the foods (and sodas) that are bad for us, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that doing the opposite can work, too. In fact, subsidies for healthy foods can be very effective at changing eating habits. And we’re learning even more about how well this approach can work from an innovative program designed by the nonprofit Wholesome Wave called Fruit and Vegetable Rx.

As the name might suggest, the program provides low-income people who don't have much access to healthy food a doctor’s “prescription” plus vouchers that can be used to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Jane Black reports for the Washington Post on Washington, D.C.’s pilot project version of the program run by local nonprofits in conjunction with a health clinic:

On June 6, the clinic began writing “fruit and vegetable prescriptions” to help cover the cost of fresh produce. Thirty-five families will receive vouchers for $1 per family member per day -- $112 every four weeks for a family of four -- to spend at any of five District farmers markets ... The hope is that a medical endorsement of healthful eating, plus cash to buy ingredients, will help families make real changes to the way they shop and eat.

Early data suggests that such programs do exactly that. There’s also anecdotal evidence that these kinds of programs can lead to healthier lifestyles overall:

Read more: Food

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It’s even in gum!: Tips on avoiding plastic from expert Beth Terry

When Beth Terry saw a photo of an albatross with a rib cage full of trash, she decided to give up plastic. Today, Terry might just be the world's foremost expert on how to live without the stuff. And that's no easy task. Think about all the nooks and crannies of our lives that plastic has made its way into: food packaging, clothing, the protective box your favorite gadgets come in, even facial scrubs. And while there are all kinds of reasons to hate plastic, for Beth Terry, it's an issue of justice. "The more I learn about plastic, the more I realize that it's those most vulnerable on the planet -- whether it's animals or babies or poor people -- who are affected the most," she says.

Terry’s new book Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too is published without plastic, all the way down to the glue. (If you're going to shop for it online, check out her website first to learn about buying from a place that has committed to shipping it without plastic.) We talked with Terry recently about plastic-free living, why the proposed alternatives to bisphenol A (BPA) might be worse, and the connection between cutting out plastic and building a local economy.

Read more: Food, Green Home

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Critical List: Canada will fall short of emissions goal; people hate smart meters

Props to Canada for setting an actual carbon emissions goal. Too bad there's almost no way they're going to meet it.

The World Bank is pushing countries to put a monetary value on the resources their ecosystems provide.

A new study shows that monkeys who were exposed to BPA in utero developed unusually dense mammary tissue -- in humans, a risk for breast cancer.

Those dead pelicans that washed up on the shores of Peru likely starved to death.

Read more: Uncategorized

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FDA on BPA: We need more time to think

Photo by Nerissa's Ring.

This week was packed with incriminating evidence linking the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) to an array of health risks. As we reported last week, a new study found regular, low-dose exposure to BPA might be far more dangerous than previously believed. Meanwhile, a University of Missouri report added to the growing pile of evidence that fetal exposure to the chemical can increase one’s likelihood of obesity, while a UK-based nonprofit organization, CHEM Trust, released a report [PDF] that includes BPA with a whole list of chemicals it calls “environmental obesogens” and diabetogens, along with persistent organic pollutants (POPs), arsenic, flame retardants, and phlalates.

As it turns out, this avalanche of bad news about BPA was not a coincidence.  You see, last December, a federal judge ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been putting off responding to a 2008 petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to ban the plastic additive in food packaging for too long, and they had to respond by the end of March. So, in a move that won’t surprise anyone who watches the agency regularly, the FDA waited until the last Friday of the month to do so.

Read more: Food, Green Home, Living

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Critical List: Pesticides are killing bees; North Sea gas leak only sort of dangerous

Pesticides are killing honeybees and bumblebees, two new studies show.

A chemist who reviewed the results of the EPA’s water testing in Dimock, Pa., says the levels of methane they found were dangerously high, despite the EPA’s statements that the water was safe.

The FDA has to decide by this weekend whether BPA is safe.

The North Sea gas leak might not be as dangerous as it could have been.

The Obama administration cut a deal on approving offshore windfarms for the Great Lakes.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Raging hormone disruptors: Common chemicals cause trouble even in small amounts

Cigarettes and old Nalgene bottles: both are hazardous. (Nalgene began phasing out water bottles with BPA in 2008. This photo, by Regan Walsh, was taken in 2007.)

The BPA in your water bottle may be even more dangerous than you think.

A major new paper is raising the alarm about low-level exposure to endocrine disruptors, substances like bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates that interfere with hormones in the human body. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, are found in a vast array of everyday products like plastics, household cleaners, cosmetics, pesticides, upholstery, and paper receipts.

“The dose makes the poison” is a widely accepted tenet in the field of toxicology, suggesting that a substance’s impact on the body increases with the amount of exposure. Case in point: A drop of arsenic in a well may not produce any noticeable health problems; a generous pour mixed into lemonade can kill a man.

Get ready for a change in accepted dogma: A paper published in the journal Endocrine Reviews found that low doses of EDCs — amounts that average people are exposed to through consumer products every day — can have serious negative health impacts.

Read more: Food, Living, Pollution

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Low doses of BPA are worse for you than high doses

The pesticide and plastics industry have a lot invested in the safety of chemicals like bisphenol A and atrazine. Such "endocrine-disrupting" chemicals mimic human hormones, and research has tied them to health problems like cancer and infertility. But these industries have always held up studies that look at exposure to huge doses of endocrine disruptors. In massive quantities, the industries point out, these chemicals don’t cause problems. Therefore, they must be safe.

But those huge doses may actually obscure the chemicals' effects, a new study argues. Endocrine-disrupting compounds "can have effects at low doses that are not predicted by effects at higher doses," the authors write. In other words, low levels of exposure to these chemicals -- like the levels that you'd get from, say, drinking water out of a BPA-laced plastic bottle -- can have worse effects than high levels of exposure.

Read more: Living

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Critical List: Chevron execs face ‘environmental crime’ charges; even small doses of BPA are dangerous

Everything about Frozen Planet is awesome, except Alec Baldwin's narration.

Chevron execs in Brazil must surrender their passports and face criminal charges for "environmental crimes" connected to oil spills off the country's coast.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals like bisphenol A and the pesticide atrazine can have significant health effects even for people exposed to only small doses, according to a new study.

Mitt Romney wants Obama to fire Steven Chu, Lisa Jackson, and Ken Salazar because as heads of departments (Energy, EPA, and Interior) that have some responsibility for energy, they "are on a mission to drive up the price of gasoline and all energy."

Scientists have been monitoring Isle Royale National Park's grey wolves for decades, but with only one female left in a pack of nine, the wolves could die out.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Campbell’s to ditch BPA from soup cans

Photo by Antonio.

Attention, shoppers: Campbell’s (FINALLY) announced plans to eliminate hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A from the linings of its soup cans. And it only took consumer outrage, countless nonprofit petitions, concern from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and hundreds of independent studies linking BPA to a hodge-podge of horrifying health maladies!

Campbell's Soup Co. spokesman Anthony Sanzio said Monday the company has been working on alternatives for five years and will make the transition as soon as "feasible alternatives are available."