Anti-chemical environmental activists rarely consider the consequences of their policies. They demonize chemicals that have been used safely for decades and advance chemical bans based on weak science without considering whether the replacement products will be any safer.
This is why it is particularly ironic that they are now complaining about the replacement chemical for bisphenol A (BPA), which greens have pressed government to ban. BPA is used to make hard, clear plastics and resins that line food cans among other things. Suddenly, greens are up in arms because new clear plastics are made with an alternative product to BPA called bisphenol S (BPS). "[S]wapping out BPA for BPS may have meant 'jumping from the frying pan to the fire,'" reads an article on CommonDreams.org. But the greens only have themselves to blame.
Last year, some activists pointed out that BPS may be a more potent “endocrine disrupter” and that the human body does not metabolize BPS as easily as it does for BPA. Now a research paper on the topic has appeared in Environmental Health Perspectives.
But there are many reasons to doubt that trace exposures to BPS -- or any synthetic chemical for that matter -- could have significant hormonal effects. Synthetic chemicals simply are not potent enough. Consider the fact that natural substances in our diets that we consume every day -- such as soy, almonds and a variety of legumes -- contain "endocrine mimicking” substances that are tens of thousands of times more potent than that of synthetic chemicals. And we all know, soy and nuts aren’t only safe — they are pretty good for you.
Other options are potentially more dangerous. For example, greens suggest glass because somehow they think that melting sand into a hard clear substance is more "natural" than making lighter weight, more energy efficient plastics. But who could seriously deem it safer? We all know the risks associated with broken glass. Indeed, children face far higher risks from cuts and subsequent infections than they do from a trace chemical that has been used for decades without any documented adverse health impacts.
Bans on BPA resins that line cans may pose more serious risks. Specifically, BPA resins line food containers -- from soup to soda cans -- to prevent the spread of deadly pathogens like E. coli. Accordingly, bans that force us to buy inferior alternatives may mean increased food-borne illnesses. Now that’s something to complain about.