BPA success and the next harmful chemical in line

Leonardo Trasande, MD, explains the factors that led to the success of eliminating BPA in plastic bottles and what can be learned from it to eliminate the next harmful chemical in line
The Success of the BPA Campaign and the Next Harmful Chemical
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BPA success and the next harmful chemical in line

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The story of Bisphenol A speaks to the power of the purse--that people can change how manufacturers develop their products. When the public attention was brought to BPA and plastic bottles, people demanded BPA-free bottles. Today it's hard to avoid a situation where you don't see the BPA-free bottle label. We have to recognize the power that we have, as a society, to change our own environment. There are a variety of chemicals out there that could be the proverbial next BPA. Phthalates in foods may be another area that is getting momentum and attention. What happened with BPA was the right combination of science and public attention. It's hard to predict what will be the next chemical that will rise to that level. When the right science comes and is translated in an effective way, and people have a concrete thing that can be done to protect them from that exposure, that's the right type of catalyst to develop a reaction; that's when people can leverage their economic power for effective social change.

Leonardo Trasande, MD, explains the factors that led to the success of eliminating BPA in plastic bottles and what can be learned from it to eliminate the next harmful chemical in line

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Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP

Associate Professor, NYU School of Medicine

Dr. Leo Trasande's research focuses on identifying the role of environmental exposures in childhood obesity and cardiovascular risks, and documenting the economic costs for policy makers of failing to prevent diseases of environmental origin in children proactively. Dr. Trasande is perhaps best known for a 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association study associating Bisphenol A exposure in children and adolescents with obesity, and a 2011 study in Health Affairs which found that children's exposures to chemicals in the environment cost $76.6 billion in 2008. His analysis of the economic costs of mercury pollution played a critical role in preventing the Clear Skies Act (which would have relaxed regulations on emissions from coal-fired power plants) from becoming law. He has also published a series of studies which document increases in hospitalizations associated with childhood obesity and increases in medical expenditures associated with being obese or overweight in childhood.

These studies have been cited in the Presidential Task Force Report in Childhood Obesity, and another landmark study identified that a $2 billion annual investment in prevention would be cost-effective even if it produced small reductions in the number of children who were obese and overweight. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Council for Environmental Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee for the World Trade Center Health Program. He recently served on a United Nations Environment Programme Steering Committee which published a Global Outlook on Chemicals in 2013, and on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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