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Tuesday, February 10, 2009:

This week on Expos�?©: a new web-exclusive update. In November 2007, reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a series entitled "Chemical Fallout," which took a hard look at the debate over the safety of Bisphenol A (BPA) -- a chemical found in many everyday products that has been shown to cause health problems in lab animals. The investigation would reveal that the federal government's assurances that BPA is safe were "based on outdated, incomplete government studies and research heavily funded by the chemical industry." But the scrutiny didn't end there. In 2008, debate over the chemical intensified, as did the Journal Sentinel's coverage. Concerns over BPA's use and its effects on human development led the Canadian government to take steps to ban it from polycarbonate baby bottles. Yet, the Food and Drug Administration still maintains the chemical is safe at current levels. The Journal Sentinel's ongoing investigation looks into what's keeping the FDA from acting despite the findings of its own advisory board. Watch the full program above to get the whole story, or skip ahead to the "Epilogue" for the latest.

Read the original "Chemical Fallout" series and the ongoing coverage from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Find out about the very latest developments. And learn about how you can limit your exposure to BPA.


Friday, October 31, 2008: The Latest BPA News from the Journal Sentinel

FDA advisory board accepts critical report on agency's handling of BPA
By Meg Kissinger of the Journal Sentinel
Oct. 31, 2008 2:21 p.m. | A Food and Drug Administration advisory board voted Friday to accept a report that sharply criticized the agency's decision that bisphenol A is safe in baby bottles and food containers.
The report found that FDA scientists ignored dozens of legitimate studies and its conclusions that bisphenol A is safe were inadequate.

Larry Sassich, the consumer representative to the board, said he would encourage the FDA to immediately consider a ban for infant products.  

Martin Philbert, who chaired the subcommittee and serves on the board did not vote. Philbert, a professor at the University of Michigan, is founder and co-director of a center that received a $5 million donation last summer from an anti-regulation advocate.

You can find the complete story in tomorrow's Journal Sentinel.

In the lead up to this week's meeting, the FDA faced increasing criticism from scientists and advocacy groups and scrutiny from Congress. The Journal Sentinel reported last week that there was new evidence that the plastics industry was behind the initial FDA draft report.

Monday, October 20, 2008:  
In the News: On Saturday, Canada became the first country to formally declare Bisphenol A (BPA) hazardous to human health. The federal government added the chemical to its list of toxic substances, opening the door for regulatory action, and has already signaled its desire to ban plastic baby bottles made from the chemical. In the United States, attorneys general from three states have preempted regulation by the Food & Drug Administration by asking companies that make baby bottles and baby formula containers to no longer use the chemical in their manufacturing.

Last week, questions were raised about the impartiality of Dr. Martin Philbert, the chairman of the FDA panel charged with evaluating the safety of BPA. Charles Gelman - a retired medical supply manufacturer and an outspoken critic of government regulation who believes the chemical is "perfectly safe" - made a $5 million donation to a research center directed by Philbert. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported on the matter last weekend. On Tuesday, The New York Times published an editorial calling for the FDA to investigate Dr. Martin Philbert's failure to report this potential conflict of interest and determine if Philbert should be asked to step down, and Thursday The Washington Post editorial page also weighed in, admonishing the FDA to "make every effort to ensure that not only are its opinions based in fact but also that they are free of undue influence or even the appearance of such."

Read the latest BPA developments from the Journal Sentinel. And watch Expos�?©'s "Chemistry War Zone" to learn more about the controversy surrounding this chemical.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008:
In the News: The first large human study of Bisphenol A (BPA) exposures finds adults exposed to higher amounts of BPA were more likely to report having heart disease and diabetes. In a meeting of its science advisory board yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration maintained that BPA is safe. Read about the latest research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and updates on the controversy over BPA from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Monday, August 18, 2008:
In the News: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration weighs in on the safety of Bisphenol A (BPA). Read the latest from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the FDA's draft report.

Monday, July 14, 2008: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the EPA's registry of common chemicals gives preferential treatment to the chemical industry.  The most recent example: a widely used flame retardant. Read the lastest from the "Chemical Fallout" team.

Thursday, June 19, 2008:
Read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's latest coverage here:
Panel minimizes some concerns over bisphenol A

Friday, June 6, 2008:
On the Moyer's Blog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters answer your questions about what the European Union is doing about Bisphenol A, where the $80 million spent so far on the EPA's endocrine disruptors program has gone, and what plastics contain Bisphenol A. Read more here about limiting your exposure to BPA.

Friday, May 23, 2008:
This week on Expos�?©: a new episode online and on Bill Moyers Journal (check local listings). Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters examine the lack of progress in the Environmental Protection Agency's Endocrine Disruptors Screening Program and do their own analysis of the science at the center of the battle over Bisphenol A (BPA). The commonly used chemical is known as an endocrine disruptor, and has been shown to cause health problems in lab animals. BPA, which is found in household plastics and the linings of metal cans, leaches from those products into our food and drink; a recent Center for Disease Control study found the chemical in 93% of the people it tested.  Read the original 2-part series, "Chemical Fallout," which has won reporters Susanne Rust, Meg Kissinger and Cary Spivak awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Writers. You can ask the reporters about their investigation by submitting questions to the Blog on the Bill Moyers Journal site.

Follow the new developments as Congress considers banning BPA in children's products and overhauling the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). And you might want to learn about a recent decision in California. The state -- bypassing the federal government altogether -- has banned certain endocrine disruptors known as phthalates from use in children's toys. Watch NOW's "Toxic Toys?" for more on this story.

Since the Journal Sentinel came out with its story in late 2007, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has decided to do some investigating of its own.  After making initial inquiries to manufacturers about their use of Bisphenol A in baby products, the committee has widened its investigation into "the industry's use of consulting firms . . .  to manipulate public opinion related to certain chemicals." Consultants attempt to influence the public by using so-called "product defense" strategies. For more on this, watch Expos�?©'s "Science Fiction."

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