Lightweight, Shatter-resistant, and Safe for Use
Polycarbonate products have been safely used by Q: Does BPA migrate from
consumers for decades. Recently, you may have polycarbonate food containers?
received inquiries about polycarbonate and a sub- During the production of polycarbonate plastic, BPA is
stance called bisphenol-A or BPA. Bisphenol-A is an incorporated into the polymeric structure of the plastic.
industrial chemical that is used to make polycarbonate While there is some potential for extremely small amounts
plastic. The manufacturers of BPA and polycarbonate of BPA to migrate from polycarbonate, the level is far
have prepared this information sheet so that you below safety-based standards set by government bodies
can be better informed about the safety of poly- such as the European Union’s Scientific Committee on
carbonate products. Polycarbonate plastic, because Food. Exposure to such low levels of BPA poses no known
it is lightweight and shatter-resistant, is used to health risk. In fact, the human body rapidly metabolizes
make a wide variety of and excretes small amounts of BPA with no health effect.
products ranging from The U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as regu-
CDs, cell phones, safety latory agencies worldwide, including those in Europe
Extensive research glasses and computers to and Japan, authorize the use of polycarbonate plastic in
food contact products applications that come in direct contact with food.
conducted over such as baby bottles,
almost 50 years of water bottles and food
Q: Why would I have heard about BPA?
There has been a lively debate in the last decade about the
safe use provides
possibility that some chemical compounds may mimic or
Q: Is polycarbonate disrupt the natural hormonal systems of humans or animals
plastic safe? and cause adverse health effects (“endocrine disruption”),
that there is no Polycarbonate plastic has in particular reproductive or developmental effects. In the
been authorized for use in case of BPA, this debate originated with a few small,
basis for human food and beverage contact exploratory studies conducted with a very limited number
health concerns applications by govern- of laboratory animals that claim to find reproductive
ment agencies worldwide, health effects from low doses of BPA. Upon further study,
from exposure to and safely used for more the claimed effects have not been detected when the
than 50 years. During that experiments were repeated by other researchers. Being
low doses of BPA. time, polycarbonate and able to reproduce experimental results in further tests by
BPA have been extensively other scientists is absolutely critical in determining
studied and tested for whether a study’s findings can be accepted as valid, and is
health and safety by both an accepted practice in the scientific community.
manufacturers and government agencies. Such tests
have demonstrated that consumer exposure to BPA does In addition, large-scale well-conducted research sponsored
not pose a risk to human health. by both industry and government agencies, and specifically
designed to look for low-dose reproductive or developmental Significant Studies Supporting
effects, found no evidence of such effects. These compre- the Safety of Bisphenol A
hensive studies were conducted in accordance with
Good Laboratory Practices (GLP, the accepted quality 2001
standard for scientific research) and published in major ● Study conducted at Research Triangle Institute
peer-reviewed scientific journals. (now RTI International) under the sponsorship of a
plastics industry consortium – Rats exposed to
In 2004, an expert scientific panel was convened by the low doses of BPA showed no evidence of health or
Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at the request of the reproductive effects over three generations.
plastics industry. This panel of independent experts
● Study conducted by the Chemical Compound
concluded, after a comprehensive review, that the
Safety Research Institute for the Japanese National
weight of the evidence does not support claims of
Institute of Health Sciences – Rats exposed to low
low-dose effects from BPA.
doses of BPA showed no health or reproductive
The Harvard panel’s conclusion confirms what every effects over two generations.
government and scientific body worldwide – including
● Report released by the National Toxicology
the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on
Program (NTP) on its scientific peer review, which
Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment and the EC’s
was co-sponsored by the U.S. EPA and NIEHS – The
Scientific Committee on Food; the U.S. Environmental
panel noted “the inability of other credible studies
Protection Agency; and the Japanese Ministry of Health,
in several different laboratories to observe low
Labor and Welfare – has concluded upon review of the
dose effects of BPA, and the consistency of these
evidence: the “low-dose hypothesis” for BPA is unproven.
negative studies [showing no health or reproductive
The ongoing debate about endocrine disruption or hormone- effects from low-dose exposure].”
mimicking effects has given rise to many chemical scare
stories, self-help articles, urban myths and Internet-spread
● Review of the NTP report by the U.S. EPA – EPA
rumors about avoiding products made with polycarbonate for
confirmed the panel’s conclusions that low-dose
fear of adverse health effects, including birth defects, sterility,
effects were not demonstrated.
premature puberty, genetic damage, and cancer. None of
these adverse health claims have been proven (see sidebar). ● Comprehensive risk assessment on BPA by the
Extensive research conducted over almost 50 years of safe European Commission and reviewed by the EU’s
use provides strong reassurance that there is no basis for Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the
human health concerns from exposure to low doses of BPA. Environment (CSTEE) – “The CSTEE agrees with the con-
Polycarbonate plastic is safe for use in consumer products. clusion of the RAR [Risk Assessment Report] that there is
no convincing evidence that low doses of bisphenol A
Q: Where can I find more information? have effects on developmental parameters in offspring.”
You may find additional information about polycarbonate
● Hazard assessment of BPA released by the Japanese
plastic and BPA at the following Web sites:
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry – METI
www.bisphenol-a.org (this site provides information concluded there is no need for regulatory action.
sheets and a summary of key published research on BPA)
● Comprehensive evaluation by an expert scientific
For further inquiries, please contact Dr. Steven Hentges panel convened by the Harvard Center for Risk
of the American Plastics Council’s Polycarbonate Business Analysis – “[T]he panel found no consistent affirmative
Unit at 703.741.5588 or firstname.lastname@example.org. evidence of low-dose BPA effects for any endpoint.”