Posted by: NCC Poverty Initiative Director | December 9, 2010

Bisphenol A = Essence of Voldemort

Since Thanksgiving, I have heard people talking about “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”  The story is about how Harry Potter has to hunt down his arch-nemesis Lord Voldemort, who has evilly embedded himself into everyday objects.  When Harry finds these objects, long-term exposure to their toxic properties leads to irritability and sickness.  Whatever you may think about the Harry Potter series, I have to say how struck I am by the similarity of J.K. Rowling’s evil character Voldemort to a real-life nemesis of real people: Bisphenol-A (BPA).

BPA is in all kinds of things: Be Alert!

When I started as an eco-justice fellow, I didn’t know much about BPA.  Our environmental health program manager Chloe would tell me things about how BPA was in my plastic lunch leftovers container, in my can of soup, and in my water bottle.  I would shrug to myself and secretly think “I feel okay… it can’t be that bad.”

Then I started learning more.  I found out that this chemical seeps out of the materials its embedded in, and into your food and skin.  BPA has been linked in animal tests to breast and prostate cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, early childhood puberty in girls, endocrine disruption, and cardiovascular disease.  Wow, I should get rid of my toxic plastics and stop buying canned foods, I thought.  Then I read a BPA study that came out on Tuesday: “On the Money.”  That’s right.  Receipt paper has BPA in it, and it has now been shown that BPA rubs off receipts onto money.  In this study, 21 out of the 22 randomly tested dollar bills from Safeway, Kroger, and the U.S. House of Representatives Rayburn cafeteria had toxic BPA on them.

BPA is a sneaky, stealthy villain that doesn’t get much media coverage, but its presence in money – which we can’t avoid using every day – has gotten the attention of Time Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, and other major news outlets.

Yes, J.K. Rowling, you could have named your evil villain Lord Bisphenol A.

Luckily, there is a hero in our story: the National Council of Churches is working to slay BPA and its nasty cadre of evil fellow chemicals — all of which infiltrate our everyday products and slowly poison us without our knowledge or consent.  Together, we can prevent these chemicals from world domination. Click here to sign on to our Interfaith Principles for Chemical Reform.

Also, for more information about how to keep your family safer from BPA this holiday season, check out these tips from the National Work Group for Safe Markets.

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