253988 Of baby bottles and bisphenol A: Mommy bloggers, consumer activism and market campaigns in environmental health

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 5:10 PM

Sarah Vogel, PhD, MPH/MEM , Johnson Family Foundation, New York, NY
From the pure food movement of the first half of the twentieth century to campaigns for safer cosmetics, baby bottles and household cleaners today, women have been both the leaders and targets of product safety campaigns. Today popular ‘mommy bloggers' drive campaigns to improve the safety of consumer products and ultimately to reform federal chemical legislation. These campaigns represent a convergence of consumer safety and environmental advocacy that defines the contemporary environmental health movement.

Campaigns organized around the safety of the chemical, bisphenol A or BPA, reflect a familiar history of women's involvement in consumer advocacy. Yet these campaigns also reveal several important paradoxes and pitfalls insofar as women have also become the attractive retail targets for ‘safer' or ‘greener' products. This presentation will explore the emergence of scientific concerns about the safety of BPA and, more recently, the spread of a global campaign to improve the safety of industrial chemicals in consumer markets. I will discuss several critical paradoxes and pitfalls of the BPA campaigns; for example, products labeled as “BPA-free” are marketed as ‘safer' in the absence of any evidentiary proof of risk reduction. This raises the question of whether new markets for alleged ‘safer' products effectively protect the public's health from hazardous chemicals.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the emergence of scientific concerns about the safety of bisphenol A. 2. Analyze the spread of a global campaign to increase the safety of industrial chemicals in consumer markets.

Keywords: Consumer Direction, Food Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD in Sociomedical Sciences and History
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.