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Is the Bisphenol A in polycarbonate plastic products safe?

Eric LaBarre

November 10, 2008







Bispenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used in various plastic bottles and can linings. Initially recognized as a synthetic estrogen, BPA belongs to a category of chemicals known as endocrine disrupters due to their interference with hormone function. In August 2008, the FDA reaffirmed the safety of food-contact products containing bisphenol A.

However, of the 115 published studies Industry News researchers reviewed on the low-dose effects of BPA, 94 of them reported harmful effects on mice and rats, only 21 did not. Of the 11 studies funded by chemical companies, none found harmful effects caused by BPA. Conversely, more than 90% of the studies conducted by scientists not associated with the chemical industry discovered negative consequences.


What are the Known Effects of BPA exposure?

††††††††††† BPA has been found to imitate the sex hormone estradiol (estrogen). It is well accepted that even small amounts of estrogen can induce profound changes in the body. This suggests that even low levels of BPA could have negative consequences on oneís health.

††††††††††† Growing evidence (among mice and rats) is that low doses of BPA can cause:

-          Hyperactivity

-          Early Puberty

-          Increased fat formation

-          Abnormal Sexual Behavior

-          Disrupted reproductive cycles

-          Structural damage to the brain.

There havenít been many studies done about the effects of BPA exposure on humans, possible due to ethical concerns or pressure from chemical companies.

So how does BPA get into our food or water?

††††††††††† Previous studies have shown that if you repeatedly scrub, dish-wash and boil polycarbonate baby bottles, they will release BPA. According to ScienceDaily, a liquidís temperature has the most impact on how much BPA is released. Scott Belcher, PhD and his team purchased polycarbonate water bottles from a local gym and then subjected them to seven days of normal usage. They found that drastically higher levels of BPA were released once the bottles were briefly exposed to boiling water. The speed of release increased to 15 to 55 times that of the bottles not subjected to this treatment. Belcher stresses that it is unclear what level of BPA is harmful to humans.


So how does BPA exposure affect humans?

††††††††††† In a study in the Archives of Toxicology that had not yet been published, the incidence of breast cancer in Korea was studied. Bisphenol A was suspected as a potential risk factor for breast cancer. Blood BPA levels were studied in 167 subjects. One group had already developed breast cancer whereas the other group had not. They found that there were no significant differences in blood BPA levels between the cases and the controls.

At this time, I couldnít find any other published studies regarding BPA exposure on humans.

So What Should we do?

††††††††††† Until more studies about the effects of BPA are conducted on humans, and if you decide to keep using products which contain BPA, then you should strive to keep the bottles about of extreme heat, e.g. leaving them in a car on a hot summer day with the windows rolled up. Additionally, since BPA is used in certain types of baby food products, extra precaution should be taken to prevent exposure of BPA to infants by making sure their products donít contain BPA or at least donít microwave products that do.

Literature Cited


The FDA reaffirms safety of Bisphenol-A. (2008)

Pub Med DataBase )(2008) Effects of bisphenol A on breast cancer and its risk




Plastic Bottles Release Potenitally Harmful Chemicals Science Daily (2008) http://www.

Are You Drinking from a Plastic Bottle?Do you know the risks? World (2008)



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