As I was perusing my e-mail box the other day, another message looking like what I call “scare-mail” popped into sight from grandma.
Granny is quite fond of sending me tales that have been forwarded on, warning me about walking to my car alone after leaving the mall, informing me of salmonella-laced jalapeños, telling me to call this number so the telemarketers will leave me alone, or letting me know when the next great quake is probably going to rattle California loose from its topsoil.
Sure enough, this new ne was a warning. It told me in no uncertain terms to never leave plastic bottles in the hot car due to the dangers of the manmade chemical bisphenol A (BPA), with which many water bottles are made.
According to the e-mail, BPA can leach into your water and cause your hormones to go haywire, increasing your chances of breast cancer. Indeed, a guest on the show “Ellen” had just come forward to warn others of her fight with breast cancer due to the BPA in her water bottles.
Although I usually dismiss “scaremail,” this one, I decided, was worth investigating. I scoured the Web for worthy information and although some doctors wrote that the jury is still out on whether BPA causes cancer, laboratory studies on rats have shown that it affects estrogen, decreases sperm production, has been associated to prostate and breast cancer, and it is especially hard on developing bodies.
The journal Cancer agreed, finding that BPA can causes normal cells to express gene characteristics of aggressive breast cancer cells.
The more I looked, the more studies I found about the topic and my head was soon swimming with the possibilities that we are poisoning ourselves.
So who are the lab rats now? Well, you and I and everyone else who could possibly be adversely affected by our intake not just of water but of the food that contains BPA thanks to the plastic surrounding it. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study shows that more than 90 percent of Americans are exposed to BPA.
It’s pretty hard to avoid BPA altogether as it is present in so many of the items that make our grocery shopping go that much quicker. It is even in places we would not suspect. Next time you go in to the dentist, remember dental fillings contain BPA as a primary component.
How can we be expected to avoid BPA if it is everywhere? Isn’t this a job for our government?
Well, yes and no. Two months ago, Senate Democrats introduced a bill to ban BPA. While that is fine and dandy, we all know these things don’t happen overnight. Even if that ban passes tomorrow, that will have been two months wasted during which people, including especially vulnerable infants drinking out of baby bottles, would be exposed. Until this ban is put into place, if it is, people will continue to come in contact with.
Who else is there to turn to? Ah, of course the plastic manufacturers are doing something about this, right?
Even though hundreds of studies conducted by government scientists and universities found problems with BPA, industry professionals themselves produced their own studies. Do you want to guess how many health issues they found BPA to cause? Why, none at all, of course.
So while one side is in denial and the other side is taking its time, we need to take action.
While writing the local government may be a small step forward, going straight to the source is the most effective method. Contacting companies like the plastic manufacturers and bottle companies like Nalgene, which claims it’s going to release a BPA-free bottle, brings it home that the consumer is unhappy. And when enough of these customers are upset, the company starts scrambling for solutions.
So while my written complaint makes its way through the cyber highways of the Internet, I think I’ll go get a glass of tap water and pick a few tomatoes from the garden.
Breehan Yohe-Mellor is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily reporter