Study on BPA and Behavior & Energy Cooperatives

  • Bisphenol-A is used in the linings of most metal food and drink cans. (Photo courtesy of Sun Ladder at Wikimedia Commons)

Bisphenol-A or BPA – is a chemical that has been used for more than 40 years in all kinds of food and beverage packages. It’s used in the lining on the inside of most metal cans. It can leach out of those packages and get into food and drinks. More than a hundred peer-reviewed studies have linked bisphenol-A to health problems. Recent studies have shown subtle effects of low doses of BPA in lab animals.

There have also been a few studies of BPA in humans… including a study just published in the journal Pediatrics.

Joe Braun is a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. He’s one of the authors of the study. His team has been following a group of more than 240 mothers and their children for the past five years.

“So what we found is that gestational bisphenol-A exposures, the mother’s exposure during pregnancy, were associated with behavior problems with the girls of these mothers at three years of age.”

Higher levels of BPA were associated with slightly worse behaviors in girls… such as aggression and hyperactivity. He says boys did not appear to be affected in the same way.

Braun says they controlled for a number of factors… such as household income and smoking.

He says BPA acts like the hormone estrogen, so the chemical might interfere with brain development in fetuses.

“There was a review done in 2008 by the National Toxicology Program, and I was not a part of that review, that seemed to suggest the most sensitive end points might be behavioral development and also that early life exposure during pregnancy and infancy or early childhood might be the most important. But right now, the human studies don’t really provide us a clear answer on that because we just don’t have enough of them to know.”

The Food and Drug Administration regulates the use of BPA in food and beverage containers.

The FDA says it has some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.

The FDA did not make anyone available for an interview, but in an email statement, a spokesperson said FDA scientists continue to monitor and evaluate new data on BPA as it becomes available… and they say they will carefully review the new study.


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This is the Environment Report.

There’s been a lot of talk about constructing a new coal burning power plant in Rogers City. This week, voters in Northeast Michigan could have some say in the future of that proposed plant. Aebra Coe has more:

Many people in northern Michigan get their power from energy cooperatives.

The cooperatives are member owned and if you buy your power from them, you can vote for who sits on the board. Generally, people who sit on the boards of these cooperatives are in favor of the coal plant in Rogers City.

But in August, a vocal opponent of the coal plant was elected to sit on the board of one utility. Another is on the ballot this week.

Wayne Vermilya says he opposes the new coal plant because of mercury emissions and he says it will raise the cost of electricity. He points out that several electric cooperatives in the area have already spent $20 million researching the feasibility of the plant.

“They’re going to make a major financial commitment here at some point, and it’s going to be big, or they’re going to have to decide to back away from it and learn their lesson.”

A report by the Michigan Public Service Commission calls the plant unneeded. It projects an increase in electricity bills by an average $77 a month per household.

There are two other candidates running against Wayne Vermilya for the seat on the board. Neither of the other two candidates has come out as being opposed to the plant.

Allan Berg is the incumbent. He did not make himself available for a recorded interview. But, in an email statement he said the electric cooperatives are still figuring out how much the new plant would cost.

He said until that phase is complete, he doesn’t think it is possible to know what the price of electricity would be.

For the Environment Report, I’m Aebra Coe.