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Medicine Science

BPA Leaches From Polycarbonate Bottles Into Humans 251

Posted by kdawson
from the glass-makes-a-comeback dept.
Linus the Turbonerd sends in the bulletin that BPA, a toxic chemical used in the production of polycarbonate, the plastic composing hard, clear water bottles, has been found to leach out of such containers, directly into the water that their users consume. "In addition to polycarbonate bottles, which are refillable and a popular container among students, campers and others and are also used as baby bottles, BPA is also found in dentistry composites and sealants and in the lining of aluminum food and beverage cans. ... 'We found that drinking cold liquids from polycarbonate bottles for just one week increased urinary BPA levels by more than two-thirds. If you heat those bottles, as is the case with baby bottles, we would expect the levels to be considerably higher. This would be of concern since infants may be particularly susceptible to BPA's endocrine-disrupting potential,' said Karin B. Michels, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH and Harvard Medical School and senior author of the study."
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BPA Leaches From Polycarbonate Bottles Into Humans

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  • Old? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tulmad (25666) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:53PM (#28077069)

    Isn't this extremely old news? Companies have been making BPA-free plastic bottles now for a long long time, including baby bottles.

    • Re:Old? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Philip K Dickhead (906971) <folderol@fancypants.org> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:58PM (#28077107) Journal

      This is a new study, just published. It confirms earlier indications that BPA's are far from inert and it adds data to specific scenarios whereby they are transmitted for ingestion.

      Many manufacturers have dropped BPA for reasons of public-relations.

      Replaced by?

      Other unproven, untested and highly suspect additives for 'softening' and 'pliability'.

      • Re:Old? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:35PM (#28077367)
        It's still extremely old news. This study merely confirmed what people have known for years. If they hadn't, they wouldn't have dropped BPA-containing plastics from their product lines.

        It should be noted that the more flexible plastics often used in water bottles, such as HDPE and PET or PETE, do not contain BPA.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Hey! I haven't seen an astroturfer here on Slashdot in two whole days! Thanks for keeping the faith!

          • Re:Old? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:25PM (#28077739) Homepage Journal

            Careful, this one has friends.

            Anyway, anyone who can't read between the lines of Nalgene stopping their use of a material they've been claiming is the best thing ever isn't very smart, and deserves toxics in their pee.

            The most hilarious part is that if you told people ten years ago that polycarbonates were dangerous they'd say that you were a big fucking idiot. Five years ago you'd be a conspiracy theorist. Today, you're vindicated. Tomorrow, you'll tell them about something else that's probably dangerous, and you'll be a big idiot to them again.

            • Re:Old? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashBLUEdot.org minus berry> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:51PM (#28077943)

              You mean like the industrial sugar that's in 99% of all American (and 90% of all European) "food"? ^^

            • Re:Old? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @07:01PM (#28078447) Journal

              Ten years ago, if you'd said that, you *would* have been an idiot. Even idiots can be right once in a while, in the same way that a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

              If, instead, your claim was simply that the bottles weren't proven not to leach anything, you'd be vindicated, and all the idiots who bitched that "you can't prove a negative" would still be idiots.

            • Re:Old? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by twostix (1277166) on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:27AM (#28080803)

              Various plastics will probably be this generations lead.

              I'm sure the people who were the first to become sceptical of lead were called fucking idiots too.

              Just like the poor bastard who tried to convince doctors to *wash their hands* before cutting people open was.

              Just like the guy who tried to tell 19th century England that it's widespread disease was due to people living in and drinking their own raw sewage - rather than the 'miasma'.

              Established norms are *hard* to dislodge until there's mass irrefutable proof that can't be hand waved away. To bad that mass proof equals mass amounts of people ill affected. History proves quite tidily that in any given area the general public lag significantly on acceptance when mainstream things are found to be very harmful.

              Don't wait until the masses are ok with something, especially when It's just as easy to do things to protect yourself and family now - like buying glass bottles.

              (Wait until we find out the long term effects of the new ways of growing meat feed lot style! I have two acquaintances who work in abattoirs who won't touch meat unless they know where it's come from because of what they are seeing coming out of feedlot beef.)

      • And by the way: BPA was commonly present in rigid plastics, not plastics that contain "plasticizers" for flexibility.
    • Re:Old? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fractoid (1076465) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:24PM (#28079267) Homepage

      Isn't this extremely old news? Companies have been making BPA-free plastic bottles now for a long long time, including baby bottles.

      Well I couldn't have told you exactly what chemical causes it, but I doubt you could find anyone who'd argue that fresh clean water left in a plastic container for a few days *doesn't* taste 'plasticky'. If the water tastes different when it comes out of the plastic container than when it went in, then either something has been removed (unlikely given that it's tap water in a sealed container) or there's something new in it, and unless you believe in homeopathy, that something new is a chemical.

      The human sense of taste is fascinating, it's like 'the lab' from NCIS except it's made out of a few square inches of meat.

    • It is different because before, manufacturers claimed that BPA was released only when heated.

  • This could grow tits on a frog.

  • by WillKemp (1338605)

    What a surprise! Who would have guessed that nasty stuff would leach out of plastic into the liquids in the bottles...?

  • by moniker127 (1290002) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:57PM (#28077097)
    This is one of many reasons I take my soda in the form of glass bottles. Vivà IBC!

    Well, either that or the enriched uranium canisters that mountain dew comes in.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MicktheMech (697533)
      Soda bottles are made fomr PET. BPA is found in hard plastics like PC (as specifically stated in the summary.) There is absolutely no Bisphenol A in your soda bottles. Congratulations, you've fallen into the same form of mass hysteria that leads people to censor games or the internet (a la Thailand) whenever a kid shoots someone/commits suicide.
      • I think that GP was kidding. I hope.
        Regardless, his point stands: soda tastes best out of glass bottles, when available.
        • And wanna know why?

          Same reason, that oil tanks out of plastic are leaking trough diffusion. And also that industrial-strength toilet cleaner is diffusing trough the bottles it comes in.

          Plastic & Co is never 100% leakproof. Oh, and it reacts with other hydrocarbons. That's why you can't combine them freely.

      • Re:Delicious Uranium (Score:5, Informative)

        by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:18PM (#28077669)

        At least RTF summary before you accuse people of mass hysteria. It says that aluminum beverage can liners contain BPA.

      • Re:Delicious Uranium (Score:4, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:34PM (#28077807) Homepage Journal

        Soda bottles are made fomr PET.

        Oh, Good. [nih.gov]

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        Soda bottles are made fomr PET. BPA is found in hard plastics like PC (as specifically stated in the summary.) There is absolutely no Bisphenol A in your soda bottles. Congratulations, you've fallen into the same form of mass hysteria that leads people to censor games or the internet (a la Thailand) whenever a kid shoots someone/commits suicide.

        I'm in the same boat as your parent comment, I only drink from glass or aluminum containers (not cans, more like the containers for bikes). I don't know why it shou

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          I only drink from glass or aluminum containers (not cans, more like the containers for bikes)

          If it's an aluminum container, it is likely coated with PC. You may want to check on that. More than just throw-away aluminum cans were coated like this.

  • Bulletin? Bulletin? (Score:5, Informative)

    by btempleton (149110) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:57PM (#28077101) Homepage

    These bottles were banned two years ago, though not in the USA. This is hardly a bulletin.

    • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:27PM (#28077309)

      Can the US government finally get on the fucking ball and ban BPA? I'm sick of catering to business interests.

      • by Mr_eX9 (800448) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:06PM (#28077555) Homepage
        Companies have been ditching BPA on their own...government intervention is unnecessary. If you wanna whine about government catering to business interests, you're definitely barking up the wrong tree.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by QuoteMstr (55051)

          Not anywhere near quickly enough, considering that the vast majority of polycarbonates still contain BPA. As long as the cost saving of BPA exceeds the sales lost, companies won't move a bit. Parents with young children tend to be hyper-vigilant, so sure, companies will remove BPA from baby bottles. But people don't pay as much attention to other products.

          • by Mr_eX9 (800448)
            Uh...not sure where you're getting that idea. In addition to getting people a (hopefully) healthier product, selling BPA-free bottles is an excellent way for the businessmen to get people to replace their "indestructible" bottles!
        • by Psyborgue (699890)
          Yup. Fear of civil suits does far more than government regulation ever will. I really feel for the people who want the government to hold their hand through everything. They never see what the other hand is doing.
      • ...and replace it with what, Genius?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nametaken (610866)

        From Nalgene... I've bolded the part I found interesting.

        Question: Why is Nalgene transitioning from polycarbonate to other materials?
        Answer: [Blah, blah, blah] Our decision to phase out production of the Outdoor line of polycarbonate containers is in response to consumer demand for products that do not include Bisphenol-A (BPA).

        We are confident that the bottles which contain BPA are safe for their intended use. However, because of consumer requests for alternative materials, we have decided to transition o

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      http://sev.prnewswire.com/chemical/20090513/DC1672113052009-1.html [prnewswire.com]
      PR Newswire (press release) - âZMay 13, 2009
      "This new Chicago law is contrary to the global consensus on the safety of BPA and ignores the expert evaluations of scientists and government bodies from around the world. These particular restrictions on the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups, intended for use by children under the age of three and which contain bisphenol A (BPA), are unwarranted. "

      Really depends on your part of the
  • Nalgene (Score:5, Informative)

    by HappyCycling (565803) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:06PM (#28077149)
    Nalgene, one of, if not the biggest producers of the 'indestructable' plastic bottles with BPA, still does not acknowledge the health detriments even though they stopped producing those bottles. Probably because of liability reasons... http://www.nalgene-outdoor.com/technical/bpaInfo.html [nalgene-outdoor.com]
  • soy milk (Score:4, Interesting)

    has genistein

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genistein [wikipedia.org]

    genistein is a potent estrogen mimic

    Effects in males

    Isoflavones can act like estrogen, stimulating development and maintenance of female characteristics or they can block cells from using cousins of estrogen. In vitro studies have proven genistein to induce apoptosis of testicular cells at certain levels, thus raising concerns about effects it could have on male fertility.[10]

    soy has been used in many cultures for thousands of years

    where is the faux outrage about how soy is going to destroy the world?

    not that i think we shouldn't get rid of BPA. get rid of BPA, please. the positives it enables are outweighed by the negatives. same with transfats, same with DDT: get rid of these substances form our food supply and our environment. just do it without the drama

    but i don't see why this pantytwisted fear-addled panic is supposed to help anyone or anything

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by value_added (719364)

      "There's no such thing as soy milk. It's soy juice. But they couldn't sell soy juice, so they called it soy milk. Because anytime you say soy juice, you actually...start to gag. Know how come I know there's no such thing as soy milk? Because there's no soy titty, is there?"

      - Lewis Black on Broadway

  • Good old glass (Score:2, Interesting)

    by moon3 (1530265)
    I knew it, I knew it, glass bottled beer ftw.
    • As opposed to, say, beer that comes in plastic bottles?!? WTF?
      • by Plunky (929104)
        says right there in the fine summary, that this BPA is also present in the lining of cans..
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fmobus (831767)

        As odd as it may sound, some German beer brands are sold in plastic bottles. They taste like crap, but they do exist.

        • by 32771 (906153)

          Nothing beats the taste of alcohol and plastic, eh?

          I've never seen this in Germany though, its only glass for me.

          There are some in aluminium cans though, and they also taste like crap.

          • by fmobus (831767)

            If I remember correctly, the "Tuborg" brand sold beer in plastic bottles. Regarding aluminium cans: never saw those in Germany, but they are quite common here in Brazil (mostly due to a strong recycling program).

            At any rate, if wine has taught us anything, it is that the best container is glass. But I've seen plastic and Tetra Pak wine too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by grrrl (110084)

        they sell American beer in plastic bottles around the pool in Vegas. neat, really :)

      • by nametaken (610866)

        I'm going to guess you're from the other side of the pond. There are quite a few beers that are sold in cans and plastic bottles here in the US.

        But we all know glass bottles just make it taste better. :)

    • by fractoid (1076465)

      I knew it, I knew it, glass bottled beer ftw.

      If you can't have it on tap, at least drink it from glass. Bottles or a pint glass, either or.

      I've only tried canned beer a couple of times but it tastes fuggin horrible.

  • Very old news? (Score:4, Informative)

    by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:13PM (#28077213) Homepage

    BPA in plastic bottles was banned in Canada last year.

    • Re:Very old news? (Score:4, Informative)

      by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:22PM (#28077271)

      I believe it was only banned for use in baby bottles.

      This is because babies are probably more susceptible to BPA and because baby bottles are heated, increasing the amount leached.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      BPA in plastic bottles was banned in Canada last year.

      To paraphrase one of my army buddies:
      "Good thing we're not in Canada"
       
      /He'd make that joke whenever he saw "Known To The State Of California To Cause Cancer"

  • Good News (Score:4, Funny)

    by PingPongBoy (303994) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:26PM (#28077299)

    This is the justification of beast feeding that I've been waiting for. Now, if you don't mind, I'm off to find a tit.

    Unitil I return, all the breast, to you and yours.

    • by db32 (862117)

      Please don't. We don't want you to starve to death!

  • by forgot_my_username (1553781) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:43PM (#28077401) Homepage

    Great! I think we should all go back to lead plumbing and lead pewter cups.... After a couple of generations, we won't have all these fancy "scientific" reports.... Instead we will have... "wite paint tastyer than blu paint"

    refinance cost [erefinancing.org]

    • by Bootarn (970788)
      I wish I hadn't already used up my mod points, since this is one of the funnier things I've read today.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:49PM (#28077463)

    There was an interesting article on NPR recently where they looked at premature infants who were on heart-lung machines whose tubing all used such BPA. These kids had much higher levels than other kids in their systems. 15 years later there were no detectable problem with their reproductive systems. Granted the study size was small, but there is clearly no dramatic effect from significantly larger levels than adults get from using water bottles.

    • by mozzis (231162) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:09PM (#28077583) Homepage
      What is most disturbing about this is that in this "highly technical" (ahem) community, only one poster noticed that what is important is not whether or not BPA is present in the urine or blood of people who use the bottles, but rather it is what are the health effects if any when it is present? A related question still unasked here is, how far away does a 69% increase in BPA levels put us from FDA-posited unsafe levels? Since the normal level in the population is thousands of times less than the unsafe level, this is an important piece of data that was missing from TFA.
      • Indeed. The most obvious example of the inability to consider threshold doses is the ubiquitous warning "This chemical is known to the State of CA to cause cancer" without noting "By the way, the amount in this product is 10 times lower than the threshold does and 1000000 lower than the LD50.

  • http://2008.igem.org/Team:University_of_Alberta [igem.org] This project was about creating a synthetic organism that would be able to detect and destroy this stuff
  • That the people most at risk (infants) happen to use them in the worst possible way (heated). Now it will be interesting (and scary) to see some studies on the long term effects of the exposure to the population. No wonder this generation will die younger than their parents!
    • by Albanach (527650)

      That the people most at risk (infants) happen to use them in the worst possible way (heated).

      There's no need to warm infant formula.

    • by fractoid (1076465)

      No wonder this generation will die younger than their parents!

      That's a pretty big call there.

      • by viyh (620825)
        No it's not. It's already been widely reported due to the obesity epidemic.
  • great news. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@gamerslaC ... minus physicist> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:23PM (#28077717) Homepage Journal

    first and foremost, you can suck it, FDA! suck it hard!

    You knew this all along and you put us all in danger due to corporate influences.

    We should now be able to see the FDA chief, who allowed BPA to continue in products, put in jail for gross negligence.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:28PM (#28077765)

    The linked report was less than useful, since the reporting was done in relative terms - e.g. "increased by two thirds". Okay, but two thirds over what? There are generally specific concentrations above which a chemical is identified as harmful by the government (or by a watchdog agency, if you don't trust the government). Why not say "BPA levels increase from the background level of xxxxxxx to a ppm/ppb of yyyyyy in individuals who drank from these bottles for one week"?

    So really, even if the shift away from BPA plastics wasn't already well on, there's no indication from this report whether I should actually be concerned or not. And frankly, as someone with a science background, this sort of thing makes me LESS likely to be concerned. When I see fuzzy reporting, my first though is it was done intentionally because they can't support their case using objective numbers. I've seen this happen in honest-to-goodness scientific papers way too often to not notice.

    • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:55PM (#28077977)

      The linked report was less than useful, since the reporting was done in relative terms - e.g. "increased by two thirds". Okay, but two thirds over what? There are generally specific concentrations above which a chemical is identified as harmful by the government (or by a watchdog agency, if you don't trust the government). Why not say "BPA levels increase from the background level of xxxxxxx to a ppm/ppb of yyyyyy in individuals who drank from these bottles for one week"?

      ...And frankly, as someone with a science background, this sort of thing makes me LESS likely to be concerned. When I see fuzzy reporting, my first though is it was done intentionally because they can't support their case using objective numbers. I've seen this happen in honest-to-goodness scientific papers way too often to not notice.

      It makes me skeptical as well, but I think there are at least two other reasons things get reported this way:

      • Reporters are afraid that if they mention more than one number, Joe Sixpack's eyes will glaze over and he'll think some gawl-durn science geek is trying to talk down to him, and he's less likely to read news from this source again.
      • The reporters themselves have such a poor grasp of science and math that they don't know that anything matters other than the relative increase.
    • by drew (2081)

      I wondered about that too. I also noticed that it specifically mentioned urine concentrations. Now, I'm far from an expert on the subject, but as I understand it this means that my kidneys are doing their job, and filtering the stuff out of my blood stream. It seems to me that how much of this shows up in my urine is less interesting than how long it sits in my body before my kidneys take care of it, and what problems it's causing there.

      That small amounts of BPA are capable of leaching out of bottles and

    • by EdZ (755139)
      According to the paper, the concentration increase was from 1.4 micrograms per gram (after washout) to 2.0 micrograms per gram (after 1 weeks use). Average concentration among the general population is 2.6 micrograms per gram. There is no information of what constitutes an unacceptable level, but after mentioning the voluntary removal of BPA by some manufactureres, there was this:

      However, such actions have been largely preemptive, as no epidemiologic study has evaluated the physiological consequences of polycarbonate bottle use.

    • by bartwol (117819)

      Here [ehponline.org] is the study.

      According to the study, subjects first went through a one week "washout" period in which they were advised to avoid use of any containers using BPA (the study indicates that BPA is almost totally eliminated in the urine with 24 hours of ingestion). After the washout period, urine samples were taken to establish a baseline which, by my understanding, I would define as the typical trace amounts of BPA that you'd expect to find in the urine of a person who avoids BPA exposure. After the washo

  • half-life (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spikenerd (642677) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:39PM (#28077849)
    So what's the half-life of one of these bottles when full of water? Eventually, most of the BPA will be leached out, and the bottle will become safer. Does this take months, or years?
  • Can linings (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bloody Peasant (12708) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @06:58PM (#28078437) Homepage

    Most canned foods (soups, beans, etc.) have a BPA-laden liner too. There was one company whose name escapes me right now that used a safer natural* lining. It's for this reason I swore off any canned soup (even the so-called healthy ones) well over a year ago.

    * If you like beans, beans and more beans, this was fine, but the company didn't make the chicken soup I wanted :-(

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Most people here seem to think that the BPA in bottles and linings is harmful. I work in a lab that tests the low-dose exposure effects of BPA on mice. I personally drink from cans lined with BPA-laden plastics all the time, because the dose-response curves I've seen indicate that the risk of harm from BPA is negligible.

    There are plenty of other estrogenic compounds that you all consume in much higher quantities, so if you care about your BPA intake, you are misinformed. I'd like to thank the science news c [phdcomics.com]

  • I love the "...Into Humans" part of the byline. As if the chemical(s) in question do not leach out into the liquids if they are consumed by anything but humans. Leaching and ion exchange is a well known phenomena among chemists, which is why glass is still the most common container material when dealing with chemicals.

  • Junk Science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thethibs (882667) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @09:59PM (#28079425) Homepage

    'We found that drinking cold liquids from polycarbonate bottles for just one week increased urinary BPA levels by more than two-thirds [from nearly zero to 1.6×nearly zero] . If you heat those bottles, as is the case with baby bottles, we would expect the levels to be considerably higher. This would be of concern since infants may be particularly susceptible to BPA's endocrine-disrupting potential,'

    This is propaganda, not science.

  • I replace my mercury fillings for this?

    "BPA is also found in dentistry composites"

    I don't need pliability in my fillings.

    I also don't need my fillings to be made in China, but I bet that's where they were made. Out of the reach of the legal system, so they don't have to worry about any pesky legal problems.

    Keep outsourcing. Eventually everyone will realize that their food (melamine) , medicine (heparin), or building materials(dry wall) will be poisoning them. It's cool because you get 20% off.

  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Monday May 25, 2009 @02:24AM (#28080549)

    What kind of symptoms would someone experience or exhibit if poisoned by this?

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