Q&A: Safer Technologies from Plastic Crusader

Targeted News Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 -- Ron Vigdor, president and co-founder of BornFree, the first baby brand to only manufacture products that are free of bisphenol A, is fighting a plastic battle. The idea to develop bisphenol A-free baby bottles came to Vigdor and his partners after seeing a 2006 news report on the health risks of polycarbonate plastic bottles to infants. The company was launched alongside a campaign headed by Vigdor to educate consumers on the dangers of bisphenol A. 

The following is an interview with Ron Vigdor: 

TNS: Why were other companies against the bisphenol A-free train? 

Vigdor: The companies were against the BPA-Free train as the production of Polycarbonate plastics, which uses BPA was and is still a relatively inexpensive way of manufacturing. Furthermore there are costs associated with switching to BPA-Free manufacturing, that is, new machinery, Polymers and sometimes a redesign of the actual products. Switching to BPA-Free was a cost that many companies did not want to incur as well as the conflict of being able to sell products that contain BPA as well as products that do not contain BPA at the same time. There is a problem of selling two types of the same products. 

TNS: How successful was your bisphenol A education campaign? 

Vigdor: As leaders and pioneers in the BPA Free education I believe that we were and are still very strong. We are still, to date, teaching parents and will continue. There are many polymers and chemicals in plastics that still leach and the education of Toxin Free is our main goal. 

TNS: In what ways did you reach out to the public? 

Vigdor: We reached out to the public using tools such as the internet, print advertisements, as well as a massive PR and Marketing campaign which we are still pursuing. We also participate in shows for the public in which we have seminars discussing the dangers of BPA, as well as direct mail. 

TNS: What plastics remain on the market and could be harmful that you've tried to raise awareness on or have considered? 

Vigdor: There are many plastics and polymers out there that can potentially be harmful. We at BornFree only use safe polymers and test each and every batch before production as well as after the actual manufacturing. 

TNS: Is BPA just the tip of the iceberg? 

Vigdor: Yes, it is. There are other polymers/toxins in plastics that are not receiving as much attentions as BPA and will eventually come to light. 

TNS: In an attempt to be environmentally friendly, the reuse of plastic bottles has been encouraged -- is this a poor practice in terms of potential chemical exposure? 

Vigdor: There are bottles that can be reused and some that cannot. We at BornFree strongly encourage the use of reusable bottles. 

TNS: What is an environmentally-friendly option for individuals looking to purchase drinking water bottles? 

Vigdor: There are drinking bottles which do use safe plastics as well as Stainless Steel bottles that can be reused. 

TNS: When BPA originally was put to market, chemical companies funded studies that supported the statement that BPA was, in fact, safe -- did you have to combat smaller studies like this while raising awareness? 

Vigdor: We did combat this and received a lot of resistance from other companies claiming that our statements in regards to BPA were false, which were all based on independent studies done at universities and professors from around the world. 

TNS: PVC has been thought to cause estrogen-related problems, have these been substantiated? 

Vigdor: Recent scientific research suggests that small amounts of BPA and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) may leach into foods or beverages stored in polycarbonate containers, especially when the contents are acidic, high in fat, or heated. PVC and BPA may act as an endocrine disruptor, a substance that mimics natural human hormones, and that babies and growing children are particularly at risk from exposure because they are still undergoing many hormone-mediated developmental processes. BPA has been linked to a number of ailments including early puberty, cancers, sterility and others. 


Zaher Karp is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wis.