Big Chem, Big Harm: a discussion about the safety of chemicals and BPA

Nicholas D. Kristof, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, offers a perspective on chemicals in our lives in a recent column: Big Chem, Big Harm? He mentions the long term impact on future generations of low doses of bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical that almost all of us carry in our bodies. Exposure to BPA may create changes of brain and social behaviors that are passed on to future generations:

Evidence of transgenerational effects of endocrine disruptors has been growing for a half-dozen years, but it mostly involved higher doses than humans would typically encounter.

Now Endocrinology, a peer-reviewed journal, has published a study measuring the impact of low doses of BPA. The study is devastating for the chemical industry.

We use plastics all the time, throughout our day – how can they be harmful? Like many of us, Kristof had dismissed conversations about the safety of plastics:

Like a lot of Americans, I used to be skeptical of risks from chemicals like endocrine disruptors that are all around us. What could be safer than canned food? I figured that opposition came from tree-hugging Luddites prone to conspiracy theories.

Yet, a few years ago, I began to read the peer-reviewed journal articles, and it became obvious that the opposition to endocrine disruptors is led by toxicologists, endocrinologists, urologists and pediatricians. These are serious scientists, yet they don’t often have the ear of politicians or journalists.

Find links to the studies and Kristof’s reflections at