Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a major component of modern conveniences. According to bisphenol-A.org, it is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, which comprise DVDs, electronics, cars, paint, adhesives, and food and beverage containers.
It is this last application of BPA that has stirred controversy in recent years about its health risk to humans. Past studies have linked BPA to brain, behavioral, and prostate issues in young children, causing experts in various countries to order a ban on BPA in infant food and beverage containers. Numerous other studies support the use of the controversial chemical, causing some to wonder what the true science behind the matter really defends.
In an attempt to clarify the threat, the Advisory Committee of the German Society of Toxicology has published research about their investigations into BPA (pubmed.gov). These scientists have concluded that BPA is safe for human use, adults and children alike. The group used laboratory animals to study the effects of BPA. They observe that rats did not exhibit estrogen-dependent effects when exposed to 5 mg/kg body weight per day of BPA, which is currently the standard for European countries as set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). They also say that the effects on the rats translate into the effects for humans, meaning that humans should not experience estrogen effects when exposed to a safe amount of the chemical. Furthermore, the Committee says that the half-life of BPA in an adult is less than two hours, and that BPA exits the body through urine. Therefore, the Committee is not concerned that BPA will endanger human health with further use, even in food and beverage containers.
In announcing this decision, German researchers refute the 2010 claim of the German Federal Environment Agency, which recommended limiting the uses of BPA in fear of adverse side effects (foodsafetynews.com). Other countries continue to advocate a limit on the chemical. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that although studies support BPA use at its current levels, it still has “some concern” about the potential effects of BPA on children and infants (fda.gov). As a safety precaution, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a helpful webpage for parents discussing ways to limit their children’s exposure to BPA. Canada banned BPA in food and drink containers intended for children a few years ago, and France also took action to limit the chemical’s exposure to children.
Of course, more studies are sure to be completed in this area of human health concerns. As BPA is increasingly used in everyday products, it is natural to question its implications for our safety. For the present, it is useful to know that teams of researchers have tackled this problem and are currently seeking new strategies to answer this pressing question.