The fact that the potentially cancer-causing chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, has been found in 93% of people over the age of six is enough reason for me that it should be banned. But government officials can't decide whether it's safe, so it continues to be used in many plastic cups, bottles and can liners. An article in The New York Times today is a must-read if you want to understand why the BPA controversy rages on and regulation is stalled.
Meanwhile, concern is mounting in the United States about our population's exposure to all sorts of potentially harmful household chemicals. Environmentalists want our country to adopt a precautionary principle that if "there are plausible health concerns about a chemical even if they are not proved, people should not be exposed to it until studies show it is safe. The United States takes the opposite approach: chemicals are not banned unless there is proof of harm," the article says.
What? Are we living in the dark ages in this great country of ours? What proof of harm are we talking about here? Proof positive that people have gotten sick and died before a chemical can be banned? Most of us know by now that it can take years of exposure to certain chemicals before cancer and other conditions develop. A suspicion of harm should be enough for our government to halt the use of a chemical and put the burden to prove safety where it belongs: on the manufacturer.
Yes, this might mean some chemicals are banned unnecessarily. It would mean some products would cost more. But I suspect that if most people realized that synthetic chemicals like BPA are showing up in their bodies and those of their children that they'd readily support the "precautionary principle" too.