The funds, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will be spent over two-years on human and animal studies to remedy the research gaps identified by expert scientific panels.
It will study low-dose exposures to BPA and effects on behavior, obesity, diabetes, reproductive disorders, asthma, cardiovascular diseases and various cancers. Researchers will also question whether the effects of BPA exposure can be passed from parents to their children.
Expanded research effort
Speaking at a recent meeting of BPA scientists in North Carolina, Linda Birnbaum, director of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said: "We know that many people are concerned about bisphenol A and we want to support the best science we can to provide the answers. Bringing key BPA researchers together at the onset of new funding will maximize the impact of our expanded research effort."
The government funding was vital to support the new research programme. "Through this effort we will be able to provide a better perspective of the potential threat that exposure to bisphenol A poses to public health," said Birnbaum.
FDA findings due
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has pledged to release its own assessment of BPA's safety by the end of next month. Until then it maintains that the current guidelines for the use of BPA are sufficient and that the chemical is safe when used in accordance with existing regulations.
But the Environmental Working Group (EWG) believes the FDA already has enough evidence to restrict the exposure of pregnant women and children to BPA.
EWG scientist, Anila Jacob told USA Today: “We can always learn more about BPA, but we have scores of studies showing that low-dose exposure can increase risks."
Meanwhile, in a statement published on the website of The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), John Doull, Professor of Toxicology, University of Kansas Medical Center, warned that banning BPA devalues science.
“Banning bisphenol A…ignores our proven ability to use science, experience and judgment to establish appropriate regulations for all chemicals including bisphenol A,” he wrote.
“It is clear from the extensive scientific data on bisphenol A that an outright ban cannot be justified from a public health point of view. Our time-tested methods for human health risk assessment permit our regulatory agencies to establish rigorous limits on exposure that provide a wide margin of safety,” added Doull.