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Plastic, reconsidered?

(article, Caroline Cummins)

So after all the news stories about the danger of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic linings and bottles, after Nalgene and Playtex announced they would no longer make bottles containing BPA, after plenty of Americans chucked their colorful BPA-laced bottles in favor of metal or BPA-free plastic, here comes the FDA announcing that BPA ain't so bad after all.

Here's what the Associated Press had to say on the matter:

bq. About 93 percent of Americans have traces of bisphenol in their urine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the FDA’s report concluded that those levels were thousands of times below what would actually be dangerous to adults or children.

Meanwhile, critics complain that the FDA's conclusions were based only on studies done by scientists within the chemical industry.

Given that our bodies are already full of industrial pollution, from the benzene in car exhaust to the flame retardants found in furniture, the BPA found in plastic bottles might not be such a big deal. Then again, it's hard to argue with the fear factor involved in drinking a chemical, as opposed to the inescapable chemicals in the air around us.

Which may be why nobody yet seems panicked about the dangers of vinyl shower curtains or nail polish. If we're eating it, yes; if we're just wearing it or near it, no.

Not convinced? Check out the Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database, Skin Deep, for an eye-opening look at just how nasty some everyday sunscreens and shampoos — even those labeled "organic," "cruelty-free," and the like — can be.