New research results show the controversial plastics additive bisphenol A, or BPA, is commonly found in a wide range of canned foods, including some marked "BPA free" or organic.

"The findings are noteworthy because they indicate the extent of potential exposure," said Urvashi Rangan at Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports and released the results yesterday.

The survey examined 19 packaged foods and found the highest BPA levels in soups and green beans. BPA was found at levels ranging from traces to 32 parts per billion. Furthermore, the group found that some nonmetal containers -- including plastic containers or bags -- also contained BPA.

BPA is a high-protein industrial chemical that has been used for decades to make polycarbonate plastics and the epoxy linings of tin cans. It is commonly used because of its durability and ability to withstand high temperatures.

Public health groups have raised concern in recent years because BPA mimics estrogen and has been shown to cause developmental problems and precancerous growth in animals.

Consumers Union pointed to several animal studies showing adverse effects at exposures of 2.4 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day, so its scientists are recommending that daily exposure to BPA be limited to one-thousandth of that level, or 0.0024 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, significantly lower than FDA's current safety limit of 50 micrograms.

The group has called on the Food and Drug Administration to ban BPA in materials that come in contact with food.

FDA has said it is reviewing scientific data about BPA and plans to make a final decision about the chemical's safety by the end of this month.

Industry groups dispute that people are exposed to levels of BPA that could cause harm. A recent rodent study by U.S. EPA found that low dose exposure to the chemical did not result in significant reproductive or behavioral changes.

Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC., 202-628-6500