Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical present in many hard plastics that people use every day. Experts have linked higher BPA doses with infertility and other health problems.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), BPA is present in some water bottles, baby bottles, dental fillings and sealants, dental and medical devices, safety equipment, compact disks, household electronic items, and sports equipment. It also occurs in epoxy resins, which coat the inside of food and drink cans.
BPA is a commonly used chemical. People experience
In this article, we discuss what BPA is, what its sources are, and what impact it might have on human health.
BPA is an endocrine disruptor. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that BPA can imitate the body’s hormones and interfere with the production of, response to, or action of natural hormones. For example, it can behave in a similar way to estrogen and other hormones in the human body.
According to the NIEHS, there is limited research to show how endocrine disruptors affect humans, but some research has found they can harm animals. However, even a small amount may have developmental and biological impacts, because the balance of hormones is so sensitive.
Research suggests BPA can impact human health in various ways. Below are some of them.
In 2013, scientists published
According to a 2009 study that looked at the effect of males’ exposure to BPA at work, BPA may affect male fertility. The findings indicate that high level exposure may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction and problems with sexual desire and ejaculation.
Type 2 diabetes and body weight
Tests in animals have shown that BPA may aggravate or raise the risk of:
- high blood sugar and glucose intolerance
insulin resistanceand changes in insulin secretion
- problems with beta cell function
- increases in fat cells
Fetal brain development
Environmental exposure to BPA has the potential to affect the developing brain during gestation, according to research.
The impact includes changes in structural development, interference with estrogen regulation, and DNA modifications. This could have effects on social behavior and anxiety after birth, says one
Breast and prostate cancer
In 2015, a
Public authorities set BPA safety levels, but concerns remain about degrees of exposure.
One study by the
The CDC note that people commonly experience exposure to low levels of BPA when they consume food or water stored in containers made with the chemical.
Children may also experience exposure by touching items made with BPA and then putting their hands in their mouths or by putting their mouths on the item.
Other means of exposure include having dental sealants that contain BPA and working in places that manufacture products with BPA in them.
Thermal paper and carbonless paper may also contain varying levels of BPA, which gets onto the hands and fingers. Thermal paper is commonly used in boarding passes, luggage tags, and receipts.
BPA may enter the system
BPA features in some baby feeding bottles, so breastfeeding an infant is likely to reduce levels of BPA exposure.
How serious is the risk?
A 2010 report by the National Toxicology Program concluded that levels of BPA raise:
- some concern about the effect on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children
- minimal concern about the effect on the mammary gland and early puberty
- negligible concern that BPA exposure will lead to fetal abnormalities, low birth weight, and reproductive problems
In 2017, the
While experts recognize that BPA may be hazardous, a report about the dangers of BPA for the World Health Organization (WHO) points out that, in investigations, exposure tends to be higher than what it usually is in most environments.
The EPA is continuing to monitor the findings but is not currently planning to recommend new guidance.
It is difficult to avoid BPA, because it is so prevalent. However, a person can try to minimize their exposure by doing the following:
- avoiding microwaving polycarbonate food containers
- bearing in mind that containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 may have BPA in them
- reducing the consumption of canned foods
- choosing glass, steel, or porcelain containers for hot food, rather than plastic
- looking for BPA-free baby bottles
In 2011, some scientists measured the levels of BPA in people’s bodies after just 3 days of their eating a fresh food diet, with no products taken from a can or plastic packaging. They found that levels of BPA fell significantly during this time.
BPA is a chemical that is present in hard plastics, including drinking water bottles and many household items.
Research has shown that exposure to BPA can disrupt the functioning of the endocrine system. However, the levels of exposure in most people’s daily lives are unlikely to result in serious harm.
More research is necessary to understand the effects that exposure to BPA has on human health.