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No 'silver-bullet' BPA alternative

Scientific decisions made decades ago are at the root of the Bisphenol-A (BPA) controversy (see story, page 75).
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That’s according to scientist John C. Warner, president and chief technology officer of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry (www.warnerbabcock.com).

Warner believes, “The tendency continues today for industry to use those chemicals that are available and economic, rather than those molecules that should be employed for developing safe products. BPA is a very inexpensive product from the petroleum industry,” he says. “It is used as a starter material and combined with other materials to make the resin that’s ultimately used for can coatings and for making bottles.”

With a decade or more experience in science, industry, and academia, Warner’s main concern isn’t exposure to BPA through bottles or can liners, but in thermal imaging. He cites the printing on paper liners, and on gas station and restaurant receipts as examples of how humans are exposed to BPA molecules that “are completely free and running haywire in the environment.”

“I think [BPA] is a huge issue,” says Warner. “The problem is that like everything in science, you’ve got good scientists who will disagree. Look at how long there’s been global warming and it is still debated.”

The Warner Babcock Institute is in the process of researching BPA alternatives, but there’s no specific time period for market introduction.

“There’s not going to be a new material that acts as a silver bullet,” Warner predicts. “It’s more likely going to be on a one-by-one application basis—one chemical for baby bottles, one for can linings, and so on. We have to look at it from a different perspective and say that the need is so great that we have to remove this material from society.”

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