Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many common plastic items, from bottles to canned food lining to water pipes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 93% of U.S. residents have detectable levels of BPA in their urine.
BPA has been used for years in clear plastic bottles and food-can liners, but its use has been restricted in Canada and some U.S. states and municipalities because of potential health effects.
The FDA will soon decide what it considers a safe level of exposure to BPA , which some studies have linked to reproductive abnormalities and a heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.
Federal guidelines currently put the daily upper limit of safe exposure at 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. But that level is based on experiments done in the 1980s rather than hundreds of more recent animal and laboratory studies indicating serious health risks could result from much lower doses of BPA.
For example, a brand new study finds that women exposed to BPA during pregnancy give birth to girls who exhibit unusually aggressive and hyperactive behaviors by age two. That’s the finding from a study by University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill that measured the BPA levels in the urine of 249 Ohio women at three stages—during pregnancy at 16 weeks and 26 weeks and following birth. When the children turned two, their behavior was evaluated using the Behavioral Assessment System for Children-2 (BASC-2).
This study—published October 6, 2009, in Environmental Health Perspectives, was the first to look at the link between prenatal BPA exposure and childhood behavior. Early exposure to BPA during pregnancy may adversely negatively impact the baby’s developing nervous system—and have a particularly behavior-altering impact on young girls.
Look for a backlash of money from lobbyists to come flooding into Washington from the chemical industry to fight tighter controls over BPA. The largest market for BPA in the U.S. is polycarbonate plastic (”PC”) resins, which account for approximately 75% of US demand. The second-largest end use for BPA is epoxy resins, which provide 20% of demand.