The federal Food and Drug Administration plans to track pediatric patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass and hemodialysis at two hospitals in Washington and Michigan for exposure to bisphenol-A, a chemical used to make plastics.
At issue is whether BPA in the plastics used in medical devices can be harmful to children undergoing procedures that require extended exposure to the materials, such as heart bypass operations and dialysis.
Local health officials are considering warning pregnant women and young children to avoid food, drinks and other items packaged in plastics that might contain BPA. On Capital Hill, Congress is reviewing legislation that would impose an outright ban on the chemical additive.
BPA is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. It is used in many consumer items, including DVDs, cars and reusable food and drink containers, according to a website sponsored by the American Chemistry Council.
It’s an ongoing controversy, with some claiming that BPA mimics female reproductive hormones and may be linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities. The plastics industry maintains that the risks are minimal.
In June 2008, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey proposed a ban on the additive in all food and drink containers. The legislation is backed by several consumer safety groups and gained momentum after the Senate joined the fray and Canadian and European officials banned the chemical in baby bottles and food containers.