Stanford University School of Medicine postdoctoral fellow Jennifer Hartle’s study, published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology looked at long term exposure to the toxic plastic component BPA from school meals served under the National School Lunch Program, SCOPE reports.
“Hartle and her colleagues turned their attention to national school breakfast and lunch programs, which provide nutritious meals to 30 million kids every year but also deliver small amounts of BPA, an estrogen mimic that messes with hormones,” according to the site, which is published by Stanford Medicine.
“Children’s meals are disproportionately packaged in tiny one-meal containers. Those tiny packages of apple sauce and juice have a greater BPA-emitting surface area than a big carton or can for the amount of food. And school kids often eat meals off plastic trays with plastic forks and spoons. For children who eat a lot of meals at school, it can add up.”
The researchers found the levels of BPA ranged from as little as .0021 ug for a low-BPA breakfast to .17 for a high BPA lunch, which is well below the daily 50 ug per kilogram of body weight safety threshold established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The problem is, many researchers believe the EPA threshold is far too high because it was established based on 1980s research that was very basic and did not take into account the myriad ways BPA affects the body.
Those tests used rats and measured their weight loss, the problem is BPA typically results in weight gain.
More recent “research shows BPA animal toxicity thresholds at 2 ug (per kilogram of body weight per day),” according to the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology. “The single meal doses modeled in this research are at the same order of magnitude as the low-dose toxicity thresholds, illustrating the potential for school meals to expose children to chronic toxic levels of BPA.”
SCOPE notes that the “European Food Safety Authority has set the upper limit at four ug per kilogram of bodyweight per day – less than a tenth of the EPA’s limit.”
The study also highlights the fact that “BPA has been linked to heath effects from cancer to reproductive issues,” ABC 7 reports.
That brings Stanford researchers to express concern that the EPA isn’t doing enough to protect students, or the population in general, from the effects of BPA.
“At the least,” Hartle told SCOPE, “EPA should re-explore low-dose toxicity testing of BPA.”
What’s interesting is that while the FDA continues to allege current BPA levels are safe, citing the EPA guidelines, it has cut its use in infant formula packages, baby bottles and other items, while Health and Human Services suggests parents should cut down on BPA exposure for their kids.
Credits: ABC 7 | VICTOR SKINNER | Stanford University