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BPA - Bisphenol Endocrine Disruptors Health Issues


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Plastics containing BPA or Bisphenol-A are in the news frequently as a topic of health concern. As more information comes to light about BPA, more consumers are becoming concerned, seeking information and alternatives.  Find out about BPA, its risks and alternatives on the page below.

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What is BPA?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a man-made carbon-based synthetic compound with the chemical formula (CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2. BPA is used to make certain plastics and epoxy resins; it has been in commercial use since 1957. BPA-based plastic is clear and tough, and is used to make a variety of common consumer goods (such as baby and water bottles, sports equipment, and CDs and DVDs) and for industrial purposes, like lining water pipes. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used as coatings on the inside of many food and beverage cans. It is also used in making thermal paper such as that used in sales receipts. More than 90% of us have BPA in our bodies right now. We get most of it by eating foods that have been in containers made with BPA. It's also possible to pick up BPA through air, dust, and water.

2015 Updates and Latest Developments

The Wall Street Journal and others are reporting that a study just completed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, focussed on BPA safety. This follows on fromstudies by the European Food Safety Authority and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that reaffirmed their earlier decisions that BPA is safe as used in food packaging materials. A 2013 study in dogs, often used to conclude that BPA is unsafe for human food applications, focused attention on the possibility that their conclusions might be based on incorrect assumptions about how much BPA gets into the human body from food and beverages.

"Regulatory agency conclusions about the safety of BPA were questioned, with increasing frequency and intensity, after publication of the dog study," said toxicologist Justin Teeguarden of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, author of the current study in humans. "Just as important, we confirmed that there is no merit to hypotheses that BPA accumulates in humans. The entire dose of BPA was eliminated in urine within 24 hours, with no evidence of accumulation," said Teeguarden.

Overall, the work affirms the positions of regulatory agencies. "Our study reinforces the accuracy of conclusions made by the European Food Safety Authority, the FDA, the World Health Organization, and others, about the extent and nature of BPA exposure, absorption and metabolism. It follows that if objective, evidence-based decisions are valued, regulatory agency determinations that BPA is safe as used for food contact applications are not challengeable on the basis of uncertainties in oral exposure."There is a article about this on the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US Dept. of Energy) entitled, "Man trumps dog: Earlier assumption about BPA exposure confirmed - New human study shows oral exposure does not create risk for high BPA exposure." (January 27, 2015 Mary Beckman, PNNL, (509) 375-3688. And you can read the orginial text of the study's report here.

In light of these recent, more appropriately focussed research, the conclusions below about BPA being unsafe may no longer be considered valid.

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Pre-2015 data:

What are the health risks with BPA?

Bisphenol a is an endocrine disruptor, a substance that interferes with the production, secretion, transport, action, function and elimination of natural hormones. BPA can also imitate our body's own hormones in a ways that could be hazardous for health. Babies and young children are especially sensitive to the effects of BPA.

BPA exhibits hormone-like properties at high dosage levels that raise concern about its suitability in consumer products and food containers where exposure is orders of magnitude lower. The National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and FDA have some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.

Specific health issues:

bulletHormone levels. Some experts believe that BPA could theoretically act like a hormone in the body, disrupting normal hormone levels and development in fetuses, babies, and children. Animal studies have had mixed results. bulletBrain and behavior problems. After a review of the evidence, the National Toxicology Program at the FDA expressed concern about BPA's possible effects on the brain and behavior of infants and young children. bulletCancer. Some animal studies have shown a possible link between BPA exposure and a later increased risk of cancer. bulletHeart problems. Two studies have found that adults with the highest levels of BPA in their bodies seem to have a higher incidence of heart problems. However, the higher incidence could be unrelated to BPA. bulletOther conditions. Some experts have looked into a connection between BPA exposure and many conditions -- obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and others. The evidence isn't strong enough to show a link. bulletIncreased risk to children. Some studies suggest that possible effects from BPA could be most pronounced in infants and young children. Their bodies are still developing and they are less efficient at eliminating substances from their systems.

What is the government doing about BPA in consumer products?

Since 2008, several governments have investigated its safety, which prompted some retailers to withdraw polycarbonate products. A 2010 report from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified possible hazards to fetuses, infants, and young children.  Since that time numerous studies performed at the National Center for Toxicological Research have been performed that addressed many of those issues. The United States FDA has removed the use of BPA in

bulletbaby bottles, bulletsippy cups and bulletinfant formula packaging

 The European Union and Canada have banned BPA use in baby bottles.

What can I do to avoid BPA?

bulletLook for  out BPA-free products. Every day more BPA-free products come to market. Look for products labeled as BPA-free.
bulletIf you can your own foods, keep jars upright, so the food is not in constant contact with the inside surface of the lid, which is usually lined with BPA-containing plastic. See this page for a BPA-free alternative canning lid.
bulletIf a product isn't labeled, look for the recycle code, usually on the bottom. Plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
bulletCut back canned foods and drinks. Most tin cans are lined with BPA-containing resin to prevent corrosion.
bulletAvoid heating BPA-containing plastics. The NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), warns against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher, because the plastic may break down over time and allow the BPA to leach into foods.
bulletUse alternatives to BPA-containing plastics. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers. Pyrex Glass is the safest option for microwaving foods.

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References and Other Resources for BPA and Endocrine Disruptor Activities

bullet What Is BPA (Bisphenol A)? Is BPA Harmful?  Medical News Today, Last Updated: 01 Aug 2013, Original Date: 04 Apr 2011,
bullet WebMD - Children and BPA
bullet Mayo Clinic, What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA? Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
bullet Endocrine disruptors
bullet Endocrine Disruptors Research Initiative, U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development, and its "Related Sites" page
bullet Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), U.S. EPA Office of Pesticide Programs
bullet Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment, a report from the National Academy of Sciences
bullet National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Endocrine Disruptors (Use the search function to locate additional items at this site)
bullet Basic information about endocrine disruptors, and a link to an article from Environmental Health Perspectives.
bullet Office of Science and Technology Policy  (Scroll down for information on Endocrine Disruptors)
bullet Endocrine disruptors and breast cancer
bullet Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD) Endocrine Disrupters Assessment Activities
bulletReview of the EPA's Proposed Environmental Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program Science Advisory Board Report.  EPA Document No. EPA-SAB-ED-99-013, July 1999. (PDF File)
bulletScience Policy Council Interim Position On Environmental Endocrine Disruption.  EPA Document No. EPA/630/R-96/012, February 1997.

  

 

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This page was updated on 2-Apr-2018

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    Contact information:
    Environmental Health & Safety Online
    EHSO, Inc., 8400 Roswell Rd., Atlanta, GA 30350

    Table of Contents for Environmental Health & Safety Online for EHS Professionals http://www.ehso.com/contents.php
    Environmental and safety services for business - training, consulting, assessments, ISO14000, report and permit preparations and expert testimony. http://www.ehso.com/EHSservices/enviserv.htm
    EHSO is looking for environmental and safety service providers, such as trainers, consultants, CIH's, etc., anywhere in the United States to provide their services to our site visitors.  Write us for more information. Email: or click on feedback

    How to get help on your questions
    Copyright � 2011 Benivia, LLC (dba EHSO) All rights reserved.