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Health Canada Finds BPA in Most Soft Drinks -- Energy Drinks Top List

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New tests by Health Canada's Bureau of Chemical Safety have found bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic sex hormone and common plastics component, in 85 percent of 72 canned soft drinks sold in Canadian stores. The chemical is believed to have leached into the drinks from the epoxy resin can linings, which contain BPA.

The good news, according to the Canadian health agency, was that BPA contamination in the soft drink samples -- mostly brands also sold in the U.S. -- was well below its "safe" level. The average BPA level in the samples was .57 μg/L (micrograms per liter).

Rockstar Energy Drink was the most BPA-adulterated drink, at 4.5 μg/L. Lost Five-O Energy drink scored second, with 4.2 μg/L. President's Choice Mountain Mania Citrus Soda ranked third, with 2.3 μg/L, and Diet Canada Ginger Ale, fourth, with 1.7 μg/L.

Health Canada said that an adult would have to drink 940 cans of Rockstar to reach its "provisional tolerable daily intake" dose of 25 micrograms per kilograms of body weight a day (25 μg/kg/day). At that rate, it would take thousands of cans of Coca Cola (.18 μg/L), Pepsi (.12 μg/L) and Dr. Pepper (.10 μg/l) to reach Canada's safety bar. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set an acceptable BPA exposure level for humans at 50 μg/kg/day, double the level set by Canada.

But critics contend that the Canadian and U.S. government "safe" levels are too high, established years before scientific studies began finding that BPA is active in the body at far lower doses.

In 2007, a 38-member expert panel convened in Chapel Hill, N.C. by the National Institutes of Health concluded that experiments produced adverse effects in lab animals at levels at or below the level of BPA to which people are routinely exposed (Epidemiological surveys by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found BPA in 93 percent of Americans over 6 tested, with significantly higher BPA levels in children and adolescents than in adults.)

BPA exposure has been linked in laboratory tests to damage to the brain, neurological system and reproductive system, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, behavioral problems and other serious conditions.

Since people ingest BPA from a vast array of sources, including infant formula and food can linings, baby bottles, polycarbonate plastic water and beverage bottles, medical devices and other plastics, a growing number of scientists, health groups and environmental groups are pressing for a ban on BPA in all food packaging.

Last week, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that he and his counterparts from Delaware and New Jersey had reached an agreement with major baby bottle manufacturers to stop making bottles with BPA-based polycarbonate plastics. Anti-BPA forces hailed the agreement as a major step forward. Blumenthal said he would press for state legislation to force the removal of BPA from can linings and other food packaging.

Other state and local anti-BPA initiatives are under way. Ultimately, what's needed is a comprehensive national policy that protects all Americans, especially the youngest ones, from this powerful endocrine-disrupting chemical whose subtle effects are only beginning to be understood.

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