BPA Update: Canada Declares it Toxic, FDA Chair's Donor was Michigan's "First Polluter"

baby bottle bpa image

Health Canada has added Bisphenol A to the country's list of toxic substances, concluding that babies are getting too much of the gender-bender. It is stopping the sale of polycarbonate baby bottles and wants formula makers to switch to BPA-free packaging. The bottle issue is relatively easy to solve, but banning it in cans of formula will be tough- there are few alternatives for BPA in lining tin cans, and much of the formula sold in Canada is made in the states, where the Food and Drug Administration says that Bisphenol A is safe for babies. More from Martin Mittelstaedt in the Globe and Mail.

Health Canada concluded that Bisphenol A was not a threat to adults, despite recent research linking it to heart disease and breast cancer treatment problems. The North American Metal Packaging Alliance immediately issued a press release titled Health Canada Reaffirms Safety of BPA for Use in Metal Food Packaging Quel suprise.

Meanwhile, back at the FDA, it turns out that the donor of $5 million to FDA Chair Martin Philbert's University of Michigan Risk Science Center is not only an anti-regulation activist, but was once labeled the "First Polluter" by the State Attorney General" of Michigan.

dioxane contamination ann arbor michigan image

yellow represents 1,4 Dioxane contamination of Ann Arbor from Gelman Sciences; larger map here

We previously mentioned that FDA Chair Martin Philbert's University of Michigan Risk Science Center received a $5 million donation from Charles Gelman, who thinks that health risks posed by BPA are exaggerated by "mothers' groups and others who don't know the science." We also noted that according to Sourcewatch, Gelman also supports our favorite Competitive Enterprise Institute, famous for "CO2: We call it life" the CATO Institute, and Junkscience.com. He is described as an "anti-regulation activist."

For good reason; he has been fighting the regulators for decades, after being "once labeled the "First Polluter" by the State Attorney General" of Michigan.

According to the Ann Arbor Business Monthly, It appears that Gelman used a chemical, 1,4-dioxane, as part of his industrial processes in the manufacture of medical filters from the sixties until 1986. He had legal permits from the State to build lagoons to enclose the waste so that it could slowly leach away. When that was not enough, the State told him to spray the stuff on a field. Then the EPA permitted Gelman's firm to drill a well and inject it deep into bedrock.

By the mid 80's the 1,4-dioxane was found in local wells. Gelman paid penalties of $1 million and $4 million to clean it up. However, according to the book Ruin and Recovery,By David Dempsey, he got upset that the state demanded a cleanup of a chemical that they had authorized his company to discharge into the groundwater. He helped push through legislation that killed Michigan's "Producer Pay" legislation, a move that will cost Michigan Taxpayers a billion dollars over 20 years.

Mr. Gelman may well have a bone to pick with regulators after his experiences. However the fact that he has been called publicly one of worst polluters in the state of Michigan does kind of taint the position of Mr. Philbert at the FDA. OMB Watch concludes:

"Philbert says Gelman has not, and will not, affect his decisionmaking. Gelman says he has told Philbert on multiple occasions that he believes BPA is safe. Philbert denies he and Gelman spoke on the matter.

He-said-he-saids are tough to settle, but the circumstantial evidence doesn't look good: Gelman made the $5 million contribution to Philberts either shortly before or shortly after Philbert was named committee chair, according to the Journal-Sentinel.

Public health advocates had hoped the advisory panel's recommendation would provide clear cut advice that FDA would be pressured to follow. Three recent studies have raised additional flags about BPA's safety. Unfortunately, regardless of whether Philbert's judgment is colored, the panel's credibility is suffering. "

credit to: Journal Sentinel, Associated Press and Great Lakes Blogger

More on BPA in TreeHugger:
FDA Chair Studying BPA Took $5 Million Donation From BPA Supporter
Final Report on Bisphenol A: It May Harm Kids
FDA Says BPA Is Safe For Babies
Bisphenol A: How Wal-Mart Became the New FDA
Quotes of the Day: Opinions on the FDA Declaring BPA Safe
Don't Buy A Nalgene Water Bottle Until You Read This
Nalgene Dumps Bisphenol A Like Hot Potato :
Possible Effects of BPA
More Bad News About Bisphenol A: It Interferes with Chemotherapy Treatments
Yet Another Bisphenol A Pile-on: Linked to Heart Disease, Diabetes and Liver Problems
New Study: BPA May Make You Stupid and Depressed

Sources of BPA:

Bisphenol A Is In Your Tomato Sauce
Bisphenol A Could Be In Your Teeth
BPA Danger may be greater from Tin Cans than Water Bottles
Polycarbonate Water bottles
Canada Calls Bisphenol A "Dangerous"
Time to Pack In the Polycarbonates
Bottled Water - Lifting the Lid :
MEC Nixes Nalgenes
Health effects:
Hot Water + Polycarbonate Bottles = More Gender-Benders
Gender Bender Chemicals Also Make You Fat
A Safer Sippy for Your Little Green Angels
Stefani Water Purifiers: an Alternative to Plastic
Kor One: Reinventing the Water Bottle
Are Sigg Aluminum Bottles BPA Free?

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