Bisphenol A (BPA)

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Bisphenol A (BPA)
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A, more commonly known
as BPA, is a chemical widely used
to make polycarbonate plastics
and epoxy resins.

Where is BPA found?
Polycarbonate plastics have many
applications including use in some          Why are people concerned                  What did the NTP
food and drink packaging such as            about BPA?                                conclude about BPA?
water and baby bottles, compact discs,      One reason people may be concerned        The NTP has “some concern“ for BPA’s
impact-resistant safety equipment, and      about BPA is because human exposure       effects on the brain, behavior, and
medical devices including those used        to BPA is widespread. The 2003-2004       prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and
in hospital settings.1 Epoxy resins are     National Health and Nutrition             children at current exposure levels.
used to coat metal products such as         Examination Survey (NHANES),              The NTP has “minimal concern“ for
food cans, bottle tops, and water supply    conducted by the Centers for Disease      effects on the mammary gland and
pipes. BPA can also be found in certain     Control and Prevention (CDC), found       an earlier age for puberty in females,
thermal paper products, including           detectable levels of BPA in 93%           fetuses, infants, and children at current
some cash register and ATM receipts.        of Americans six years and older.         exposure levels.
Some dental sealants and composites         Another reason for concern, especially
may also contribute to BPA exposure.        for parents, may be because some          The NTP has “negligible concern“ that
                                            laboratory animal studies report subtle   exposure of pregnant women to BPA
How does BPA get into the body?             develpmental effects in fetuses and       will result in fetal or neonatal mortality,
                                            newborns exposed to low doses of BPA.     birth defects, or reduced birth weight
BPA can leach into food from the epoxy                                                and growth in their offspring.
resin lining of cans and from consumer
products such as polycarbonate              Why did the National Toxicology           The NTP has “negligible concern“ that
tableware, food storage containers,         Program (NTP) evaluate BPA?               exposure to BPA will cause reproductive
water bottles, and baby bottles.            The NTP Center for the Evaluation of      effects in non-occupationally exposed
Additional traces of BPA can leach          Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR)       adults and “minimal concern” for
out of these products when they are         conducted the BPA evaluation. BPA was     workers exposed to higher levels
heated at high temperatures. Recent         selected for evaluation because of the    in occupational settings.
studies also suggest that the public        following factors:
may be exposed to BPA by handling             • Widespread human exposure
cash register receipts.2 More research          from use and occurrence in                       The NIEHS and NTP are
is needed to determine how much BPA             the environment                               supporting research to better
from a receipt’s coating enters the body                                                     understand the potential health
and how it gets there. The National           • Growing public concern                         effects of exposure to BPA.
Institute of Environmental Health             • Amount of BPA produced
Sciences expects to support more
                                              • Extensive database of animal
research to determine if BPA in
                                                studies on reproductive and
receipts poses a risk to human health.
                                                developmental effects

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                                                                                                                    What can I do to prevent
                                                                                                                    exposure to BPA?
                                                                                                                    If you are concerned, you can make
                                                                                                                    personal choices to reduce exposure:
                                                                                                                      • Don’t microwave polycarbonate
                                                                                                                        plastic food containers.
                                                                                                                        Polycarbonate is strong and
                                                                                                                        durable, but over time it may break
                                                                                                                        down from repeated use at high
                                                                                                                      • Avoid plastic containers with the
                                                                                                                        #7 on the bottom (http://www.
                                                                                                                      • Don’t wash polycarbonate plastic
                                                                                                                        containers in the dishwasher with
                                                                                                                        harsh detergents.
Explain the levels of concern                             The NTP conclusions are based on                            • Reduce your use of canned foods.
used by the NTP. What does                                the weight of scientific evidence,                            Eat fresh or frozen foods.
“some concern” mean?                                      and integrate toxicity and exposure
                                                          information.                                                • When possible, opt for glass,
“Some concern” represents the                                                                                           porcelain, or stainless steel
mid-point of a five-level scale of                                                                                      containers, particularly for hot food
concern used by the NTP. The likelihood                   How will the NTP
                                                          conclusions be used?                                          or liquids.
of an adverse effect resulting from
human exposure is expressed as                            The NTP shares the results widely.                          • Use infant formula bottles that
a level of concern. The levels from                       For example, The NTP-CERHR                                    are BPA free and look for toys
highest to lowest are:                                    Monograph, which includes the                                 that are labeled BPA free.
  • Serious Concern                                       NTP Brief on BPA, the Expert Panel
  • Concern                                               Report, and the public comments
                                                          on the Panel Report, are added to
  • Some Concern
                                                          the NTP/CERHR and NIEHS Web sites,
  • Minimal Concern                                       and distributed to federal and state
  • Negligible Concern                                    agencies, and interested individuals                        Where can I go for more information?
In the case of BPA, the NTP expressed                     and organizations. It is also indexed                       For more information on what federal agencies
“some concern” for potential exposures                    in PubMed.                                                  are doing related to BPA, visit the following web
                                                                                                                      sites and search for “BPA.”
to the fetus, infants, and children. There
                                                                                                                      U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
are insufficient data from studies in                     What is the FDA’s current                         
humans to reach a conclusion on                           perspective on BPA?
                                                                                                                      U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
reproductive or developmental                             In January 2010, the U.S. Food and                
hazards presented by current                              Drug Administration (FDA) announced                         Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
exposures to BPA, but there is limited                    it shares the perspective of the NTP that         
evidence of developmental changes                         recent studies provide reason for some                      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
occurring in some animal studies at                       concern about the potential effects of            
doses that are experienced by humans.                     BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate                    Consumer Product Safety Commission:
It is uncertain if similar changes would                                                                    
                                                          gland of fetuses, infants, and children.
occur in humans, but the possibility                      Visit the FDA Web site at http://www.                       National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:
of adverse health effects cannot                                                                            
be dismissed.                                                                                                         National Toxicology Program:
                                                          ucm064437.htm for more information.               

  Calafat AM, Weuve J, Ye X, Jia LT, Hu H, Ringer S, et al. 2009. Exposure to bisphenol A and other phenols in neonatal intensive care unit premature infants.
  Environmental Health Perspectives 117(4):639-644.
  Biedermann S, Tschudin P, and Grob K. 2010. Transfer of bisphenol A from thermal printer paper to the skin. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. Epub ahead of print.
  DOI 10.1007/s00216-010-3936-9.

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