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Bisphenol: What to know about the chemicals in water bottles and cans | American news



What are bisphenols?

Bisphenols are a group of chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics, epoxy resins and other products since the 1960s. Bisphenol-A (BPA), the most notorious of the group of 40 or so chemicals, was originally investigated for pharmaceutical use as synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. Many plastic products marketed as BPA-free contain similar replacement chemicals.

What are bisphenols in?

  • Receipt paper, food and beverage lines food packaging, DVDs & CDs, medical equipment, toys and car parts, water bottles and some dental sealants.

  • BPA is considered a building block of plastic and is one of the most widely used industrial chemicals used today.

Toxic America

Can bisphenols cause damage?

Although BPA's health effects are still being discussed, it is believed to be an endocrine disrupting agent that mimics estrogen in the body, potentially causing undesirable health effects.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it is concerned about BPA because "it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicity agent in animal experiments and is weakly estrogenic". Add "questions about its potential impact, especially on children's health and environment". Studies the agency says, "indicate that levels of BPA in humans and the environment are below levels of potential concern for adverse effects". However, EPA says "results of some recent studies" using low doses describe "subtle effects in very low concentration experimental animals" and note some authorities, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are taking steps to "protect sensitive populations, especially Infants and toddlers. "

  • BPA is most likely to be ingested by contaminated food and water and has been found in more than 90% of the population in the United States over six years. Some other bisphenols, such as BPF and halogenated bisphenol, are also suspected of having toxic effects, researchers at a Japanese university concluded in 2015.

  • New research has linked the chemical to a wide range of health conditions in human and animal studies. A 2007 study with co-author of EPA and university researchers concluded that BPA exposure affects the male reproductive system, brain and metabolic processes. Japanese researchers found possible connections between high levels of BPA and recurrent miscarriages. In two studies 25 years apart, a researcher from Washington State University found links between both BPA and BPS – a widespread substitute for BPA and genetic damage in laboratory mice. A long-awaited 2018 government report, controversial among some in the scientific community, showed no divergent effects from BPA in animal testing.

  • BPA has been found in the urine of almost all people tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as in amniotic fluid and breast milk in some women. A 2015 study with co-author of EPA and university researchers found BPA in breast milk in about 90% of lactating women in a small study. The University of Tokyo researchers discovered BPA in amniotic fluid of fetus in 2002. Prenatal exposure to the chemical has been associated with anxiety, depression and hyperactivity in children and increased risk of breast cancer later in life.

  • BPS, the main substitute for BPA after consumer setbacks may have similar effects to its predecessor. A study by Washington State University in 2018 found similar biological effects in laboratory mice from both BPA and BPS. A 2017 study co-authored by EPA researchers found that six BPA alternatives had so much, if any, an estrogen-like effect on human breast cancer cells.

How can consumers limit risks?

BPA is absorbed into the body mainly through food and drink, but contaminated air and dust can also be a factor.

  • Cut down on preserves or, if you can't, rinse food in water. Avoid plastic in plastic containers or cans.

  • Avoid plastic with a 3 or 7 recycling code on the bottom and do not use plastic containers when possible for food and drink.

  • Select BPA-free water and baby bottles (although these probably contain BPS or other alternatives).

How is bisphenols regulated?

  • The FDA has banned BPA in infant bottles, sippy cups and formula packaging, but declared it safe for other uses. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency says that it does not plan to introduce BPA rules, but believes that it has raised concerns about its health and environmental consequences.

  • The EU extended its limitations last year on the use of BPA in food packaging based on a previous ban on chemicals in infant bottles. A 2016 decision to ban BPA in receipt paper is expected to kick in next year in the EU, where BPS is likely to be used as a replacement. France has adopted one of the most stringent BPA rules banning BPA in all food and beverage packaging since 2015.

  • Canada declared BPA a toxic chemical in 2010. While still banning the use of BPA in baby bottles, public authorities now maintain that the chemical is not a health risk.


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