Bisphenol A (BPA)
What does BPA stand for?
BPA is an acronym for Bisphenol A, a organic compound produced in large quantities for use primarily in producing polycarbonate plastics, polyvinyl chloride plastics, and epoxy resins.
Where is Bisphenol A found?
Polycarbonate (PC) is a thermoplastic polymer used in electronic components, construction materials, data storage, automotive parts, aircraft components, security components, and in medical applications. Polycarbonate plastic is tough, nearly shatterproof, and highly transparent to visible light. Popular uses for polycarbonate plastic is in sunglass, eyeglass, CDs and DVDs.
Polyvinyl chloride (type 3 â€“ PVC) is a thermoplastic polymer used in piping, electric wire insulation, clothing (fake leather), portable electric devices, signs and poster boards, ceiling and floor tiles, and adhesives.
A popular use of PVC is in sewage piping due to its non-corrosive properties. Records or vinyl records were also made from PVC plastic.
Epoxy is a thermosetting polymer (a type of polymer that cannot be remolded once it solidifies) used in coatings (to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes), adhesives, and composite materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass. Epoxy is commonly sold in hardware stores as a fast drying adhesive containing two squeeze bottles. One bottle contains epoxide, the resin. The other contains polyamine, the hardener.
How does BPA affect us?
BPA is an endocrine disrupting compound (EDC) that interferes with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the human body. Natural hormones in our body are responsible for maintaining normal cell metabolism (homeostasis), development, reproduction, and even our behavior.
Here are some things BPA have been associated with causing:
- Abnormal fetal and infant brain development and behavior
- Neurological issues
- Heightened sensitivity to drugs of abuse
- Male erectile dysfunction
- Disruption of the female reproductive system
Why are people concerned about BPA?
BPA exposure is very widespread in humans. In a 2003 study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 93% of human 6 years and older have detectable traces of BPA in their urine. The study was done using samples from 2,517 people.
In 2007, a consensus statement given by 38 Bisphenol A experts concluded that average levels of BPA in humans are above those that cause harm to laboratory animals.
In 2008, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) expressed â€œsome concernâ€ about BPAâ€™s effect on brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children. The concern is heightened by the fact that infants and children have the highest daily intake of Bisphenol A. This is also the reason plastic milk bottles are now marketed using â€œBPA free.â€
How are we exposed to Bisphenol A?
A majority of BPA exposure in humans is through our intake of BPA contaminated foods and beverages. BPA can leach into our food from canned foods coated with epoxy, polycarbonate water bottles, food storage containers, tableware, baby bottles, etc.
How do we prevent or lower BPA exposure?
- Do not expose foods or beverages to polycarbonate (PC) plastic. The plastic identification number for PC is number 7 â€“ other plastics.
- Do not expose foods or beverages to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. The plastic identification number for PVC is number 3.
- Do not heat or put hot foods/beverages in polycarbonate containers or tableware.
- Use glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers for hot food.
- Use Bisphenol A free baby bottles.
- Use dry infant milk powder vs. pre-mixed powders.
- Reduce the use of canned foods.