Two years ago, everyone was panicking over news that bisphenol-A, a chemical used in making polycarbonates that could act like the female growth hormone estrogen, could leach out of Nalgene bottles. Studies blamed bisphenol-A (BPA) for enlarged breasts and reduced penis size in boys, obesity and early puberty in girls. As people packed in the polycarbonates, SIGG was happy to accept a huge increase in sales, with their claim that their bottles tested BPA-free. They even made sippy cups for babies to replace the polycarbonate bottles that are being banned. Websites recommended them; the big retailer Patagonia did joint ventures with them.

But many had doubts about the lining of the SIGG bottles, and a year ago we asked specifically if the linings had BPA in them. Steve Wasik, the president, claimed that the lining was proprietary, and he couldn't tell us what was in it, but claimed:

"Very thorough migration testing in laboratories around the world is conducted regularly and has consistently shown SIGG aluminum bottles to have no presence of lead, phthalates, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), bisphenol-A (BPA), bysphenol-B (BPB) or any other chemicals which scientists have deemed as potentially harmful."

But the tests for bisphenol-A measure in parts per billion, and hormones work in our bodies at the parts per trillion level. And it turns out that Wasik was very carefully parsing his statements to hide the fact that his bottles were lined with a high-quality epoxy that didn't leach detectable levels of BPA but, like all epoxy resins, was made with the stuff. Remember that the danger of BPA is still controversial; the Food and Drug Administration is still saying it is harmless, and even the Canadian government, which was the first to demand its removal from baby bottles, is still calling it safe for other uses.

Patagonia's take on the issue


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