Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers
 
 

 

 

The Asahi Shimbun
May 8, 2003

More about bisphenol A

Hormone disrupters in paper packaging

Paper food packaging contains synthetic chemicals suspected of disrupting hormones, raising concerns it may be no safer than plastic packaging, according to a study by researchers in Osaka.

Plastic packaging contains hormone disrupters, also known as endocrine disrupters, which have been linked to atypical sexual development and reduced resistance to disease.

As a result, manufacturers have begun switching from plastic packaging to paper-based containers.

But the study, conducted by the Osaka City Institute of Public Health and Environmental Sciences and led by Asako Ozaki, detected endocrine disrupters in 21 paper packaging items, including cups, napkins, tea bags and coffee filters.

"The levels (detected in the tests) aren't so high they could be a direct threat to human health, but there should be some sort of guideline for paper products,'' Ozaki said.

Ozaki and the team began testing 16 kinds of paper products made from virgin pulp and 12 items made from recycled paper in 2001.

Bisphenol A (BPA), a suspected endocrine disrupter, was detected in 13 of the 16 items made from virgin pulp in levels between 34 nanograms (a nanogram is 1 billionth of a gram) per gram to 360 nanograms per gram.

BPA levels of between 190 and 26,000 nanograms per gram were also found in eight of the 12 food containers made from recycled paper, including sandwich and fried chicken packaging.

The highest levels of BPA-26,000 nanograms per gram in a sandwich box- is equal to BPA levels found in polycarbonate plastic food packaging.

The tests also detected high levels of a chemical compound called Michler's Ketone (MK), a suspected carcinogen contained in ink, in cardboard boxes used to carry vegetables.

Upon further examination, the researchers found microscopic traces of ink and copy paper among the fibers of items made from recycled pulp, which could explain the source of the contamination.

The Food Sanitation Law issues standards for plastic, china and metal packaging that come into direct contact with food.

But similar paper products are unregulated.

"Paper products have never been inspected for potential danger so they have never been regulated,'' said a health ministry official. "If study results suggest otherwise, we will certainly look into the matter.''

 
   
   

 

 

 

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