Baffled by the Baby Bottle
Department of Chemistry
St. Cloud State University
This case is based on an actual article entitled "Baby Alert" that appeared in Consumer Reports (May 1999). The article raises some concerns about the safety of polycarbonate baby bottles, and recommends that parents dispose of them as a precaution. However, the American Plastics Council and the Food and Drug Administration have raised concerns about the experimental methodology used as well as the recommendations made in this article. The case has been used to help develop students’ critical thinking skills in an introductory chemistry course for non-majors. It may be used to illustrate applications in polymer chemistry, quantitative chemical analysis, toxicology, endocrine disruption, and risk-benefit analysis.
- Stimulate student interest in the sciences.
- Develop critical thinking and reasoning skills.
- Acquaint the students with the fundamentals of polymer chemistry.
- Introduce the concepts of detection limits, quantitation, lowest observed adverse effect limit (LOAEL), and reference (safe) dose.
- Develop an understanding of scientific judgment.
- Create an awareness of the endocrine disruption issue.
KeywordsPolycarbonate baby bottle; bisphenol-a; BPA; plastic; polymer; polymer chemistry; endocrine disruption; toxicity
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsDilemma/Decision, Directed
Subject HeadingsChemistry (General) | Toxicology | Materials Science |