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BPA’s Bad for Humans, but Why Is U.S. Studying Chinese Workers’ Exposure?

3-D model of plastic additive bisphenol A (source: Wikipedia)

We’ve seen a number of reports indicating that plastic additive bisphenol A is bad for humans; all of BPA’s effects on humans are still not fully itemized or understood and are still under study. (There’s enough data for the Canadian government to label BPA toxic, though.)

But a recent article from the Independent-UK regarding recently released findings encourages readers to extrapolate too much information about BPA.

The article reports on a study based on 514 factory workers in China, concluding that BPA exposure reduces semen quality. The exposures these workers faced could be completely off the map in terms of quantity, and the same workers could also have been exposed to many other hazards — like the benzene spill in the Songhua River in 2005. The article doesn’t say if the workers were all from one plant or several, nor does it say whether the workers tested were in the chemical or plastics industry or in other industries.

The other problem with this article is that there could be a re-hash of information from two other studies led by the same doctor, reported widely last year.

There’s more info in this report on the first of the three studies here:

Workplace BPA Exposure Increases Risk Of Male Sexual Dysfunction
ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2009) — High levels of workplace exposure to Bisphenol-A may increase the risk of reduced sexual function in men, according to a Kaiser Permanente study appearing in the journal Human Reproduction

This 2009 article indicates the first study was based on data from 634 factory workers — this time the article does say that they tested people in “BPA manufacturing facilities” (note the plural form) and a control group “where no BPA was present.”

I’m a little skeptical about three concurrent five-year studies with groups ranging from 417 to 634 in number; it seems like a lot being done by the same folks at the same time, but I don’t have any feel for whether this is typical or not.

The big news story buried inside both this Independent-UK article and in the year-old ScienceDaily article is that the Center for Disease Control’s U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health is funding studies on Chinese citizens in China based.

What the…? Would anybody care to explain why U.S. tax dollars are testing BPA exposures in China and not here on U.S. workers?

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Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, FDL community member since 2005, geek since birth.

Fan of science and technology, wannabe artist, decent cook, successful troublemaker and purveyor of challenging memetics whose genetics may be only nominally better.

Assistant Editor at Firedoglake and Editor at The Seminal.