The latest thing to worry about: bisphenol A

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There's nothing like finding something new to worry about. This week, it's bisphenol A.

If you haven't heard, it's a chemical used in plastics, and as the Washington Postrecently reported, the U.S. National Toxicology Program recently wondered in a draft report if baby bottles made with bisphenol A might cause behaviorial changes in infants and children and trigger the early onset of puberty in females. The report also said that more studies should be done, but no matter: Wal-Mart's halting the sales of baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, food containers and water bottles made with bisphenol A in its Canadian stores -- and will stop selling baby bottles with BPA in American stores early next year. Meanwhile, stores like Target and Babies R Us are offering alternative products not made with BPA.

Phew, sounds like we're all going to be okay. Why am I worried? Besides, my kids are past the age of baby bottles and pacfiiers, and they seem no worse for the wear.

But then I read that BPA is also used as a protective spray on metal -- to keep foods in cans from tasting metallic, for instance. It also is used on the inside of soda cans.I used to worry about what was in the soda, whether the sugar or the sugar substitutes, and now I get to worry about the can it comes in. Swell. But, you know, maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe (excuse me, while I wipe some flop sweat off my forehead), you know, this is just another overblown study. After all, I've been drinking soda and eating food out of cans for years. I'm still here. I probably haven't been affected by bisphenol A at all.

Then I read this lovely story from the Associated Press, that said: More than 90 percent of Americans are exposed to trace amounts of bisphenol, according to the CDC. The chemical leaches out of water bottles, the lining of cans and other items made with it."

Well, still, what does that really mean, really?

According to one article in Science magazine, "It has been detected in the blood of most Americans."

Ah. OK.

So... I'm going to go hide under my desk now.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale.)
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