Bisphenol A (BPA)
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic chemical that has many industrial uses including in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic, the lining food and beverage cans and thermal paper/cash register receipts. BPA has been used for more than 50 years and is approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with respect to food contact materials.
Radical environmental groups, including the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and activist-researchers like Fred vom Saal are scaring the public about BPA being an endocrine disrupter at very low doses.
There is no scientific evidence that BPA:
- Has ever harmed anyone despite 50 years of use;
- Acts as an endocrine disrupter; and
- Has any health effects at low doses.
Facts about BPA
Since BPA is one of the best tested substances it has a rich and robust database on (eco)toxicity, metabolism, pharmacokinetics and human exposure. More than 1000 toxicological studies on BPA have been evaluated by regulatory bodies around the world. There are two kinds of studies, the high quality, statistical robust guideline studies done under GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) which focus on the relevant route of exposure like food uptake and Non-guideline explorative studies. Studies of the second type are used very often to link BPA with potential risks for human beings. These studies have e.g. no or lacking quality control, use very often irrelevant routes of exposure and the observed effects are not reproducible under accepted scientific conditions.
The facts are:
- BPA is not carcinogenic or mutagenic
- BPA does not adversely effect reproduction or development at any realistic dose
- BPA shows weak estrogenic effects only at extremely high dose levels never reached in daily life (comparable to natural phyto-estrogens in soybeans, carrots, tofu etc.) • BPA is efficiently “metabolized” and rapidly excreted after oral exposure. The “metabolites” have been shown to be non-estrogenic!!
- BPA does not cause low-dose endocrine related reproductive or developmental effects in large scale robust guideline studies. Reported low-dose-effects have not been confirmed and replicated.
All the publications which claim link BPA exposure to e.g. cancer, early puberty, birth defects, miscarriage, diabetes obesity, heart disease, hyperactivity, neural behaviours, infertility are not supported by weight of scientific evidence.
The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) just recently (July 29, 2010) concluded after reviewing two studies about potential effects of BPA on neurological development and behaviour: “The studies by Stump et al. (2010) and Ryan et al. (2010) provide no indications for adverse effects of Bisphenol A on neurological development and behaviour.” The European Food Safety Authority EFSA apparently came to a similar conclusion regarding the Stump et al study in its preliminary statement published in July 2010, stating “The Panel has concluded that the study does not provide evidence of BPA affecting neurobehavioural endpoints included in the study design and would therefore not lead the Panel to consider changing the TDI (Tolerable Daily Intake) for BPA. Two new studies conducted by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to “answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about the risks of BPA” are published from FDA’s research program. One of many positive and important results of the studies is that the findings come to the conclusion that studies involving non-oral exposure are of limited relevance to human health. All this studies again add to the weight of scientific evidence that consumers do not being concerned when using products made from materials containing small amounts of BPA.
Studies and Reports
- Entine J, Scare to Death: How Chemophobia Threatens Public Health, American Council on Science and Health, January 18, 2011.
- Exposure from thermal paper low. Biedermann S et al., Transfer of bisphenol A from thermal paper to the skin, Anal Bioanal Chem, July 11, 2010.
- Cash register receipt exposure low. Bisphenol A in cash register receipts, Centre for Xenobiotic Risk Research, University of Zurich, February 3, 2010.
The anti-BPA attack is fueled by multiple agendas:
- Radical environmental groups:
- Are trying to undermine public confidence in businesses and government by attacking the safety of consumer products;
- Hope to bully large corporations into begging for mercy and cutting deals with the activists that advance the green agenda.
- Want to establish the dubious endocrine disrupters scare and low dose effects precedent so that many other chemicals/businesses can be attacked.
- Trial lawyers are suing BPA makers/users, including a billion-dollar, class action suit filed in 2008.
- Fred vom Saal would be a research nonentity without the BPA controversy.
- Plastics Chemical Affects U.S. More Than Canada: Study, US News & World Report, February 22, 2011.
- Comment. The headline is wrong; the study deals with body burden, not health effects. There is no evidence that BPA "affects" anyone in any meaningfully adverse way.
- Study media release. Bisphenol A exposures lower in Canadians compared to Americans, Eurekalert.org, February 22, 2011.
- Maine Governor proposes to repeal ban. Phase I of Gov. LePage's regulatory reform proposal, Portland Press Herald, January 25, 2011.
- Related commentary. Goodman J, BPA ban could increase risks to public's health, Portland Press Herald, Janbuary 29, 2010.
- Study Claim. Chemical tied to hormonal syndrome, Reuters, January 11, 2011.
- Comment. Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age and its cause is unknown. This small, cross-sectional study can't possibly link syndrome with BPA since the disorder is common, no one knows its causes, and there is no information about the timing of BPA exposure and its relationship to the onset of the syndrome. The analytical method used (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or ELISA) was discredited years ago with respect to BPA in humans. Studies that rely on that method (mostly from Japan) have been discarded by every regulator that has reviewed BPA. The method isn’t selective for BPA, meaning the researchers have no idea what they measured. Even if BPA were measured, it has a very short half-life in the body. How could brief exposure to BPA have anything to do with the etiology of PCOS? Does it now occur overnight?
- First class action settlement. Whatley Drake & Kallas and Walters Bender Strohbehn & Vaughan Announce First Settlement in Bisphenol-A (BPA) Products Liability Litigation, InsuranceNewsNet.com, January 7, 2011.
- Comment. Plaintiffs lawyers clean-up in settlement while actual plaintiffs get refunds and vouchers for new baby bottles.
- Claim: BPA harms female fertility. Study links increased BPA exposure to reduced egg quality in women, EurekAlert.org, December 15, 2010.
- Comment. As noted by the authors, this is a small-scale, preliminary study and further studies are needed to confirm the findings. In contrast, comprehensive studies on laboratory animals have found that BPA does not affect reproduction, in particular at the very low levels of BPA to which people may be exposed. A recent scientific evaluation by a World Health Organization expert panel confirmed that BPA is efficiently metabolized and rapidly eliminated from the body after exposure, which indicates that BPA is unlikely to cause health effects. Regulatory agencies around the world have comprehensively evaluated the science on BPA and concluded that BPA is not a significant health risk. The study evaluated statistical associations between BPA levels in blood from infertile women and their male partners participating in an in vitro fertilization program at the university. The study claims some statistical associations between BPA levels and oocyte (egg) fertilization and development. This is a very small study with a total of 58 women and 37 men participants. Some of the statistical associations were only observed on subsets of the participant group (as few as 5 or 9 participants) with no corresponding associations observed with the full group. Due to the small size of the study, the statistical analyses are very limited and, at best, this can only be considered as a preliminary study. The BPA levels were measured at the University of Missouri with an analytical method that does not positively identify BPA using mass spectrometric techniques. The reliability of this method is uncertain. The method measures only free BPA and does not verify the presence of total or conjugated BPA, which would be expected to be present at much higher levels.
- Study Claim: BPA found on money. Study finds low levels of BPA on receipts and money, Plastics News, December 8, 2010.
- Comment. The highest potential exposure detected was 2.5 micrograms. The EPA permitted exposure level is 50 micrograms per kilogram of bodyweight. So the highest potential exposure is about 1,363 times lower than that permitted for a 150-lb person. Moreover, absorbed BPA is rapidly metabolized into water soluble (i.e., excretable) and estrogen inactive (i.e., non-hormonally active) compounds.
- Study claim: BPA affects roundworms. BPA induces sterility in roundworms, Science News, November 15, 2010.
- Comment. Soaking a model species (a worm) in BPA is hardly of direct relevance to humans. It's not surprising that concentrations from 0.1-1 mM (equivalent to 22.8-228 ppm) cause effects. Concentrations in water in the environment are typically well under 1 ppb. They further report that internal concentration in the worm with 1 mM exposure is 2 ppm, which they claim is relevant to human exposure. CDC finds BPA (as metabolites) in urine, where it concentrates when excreted, at only about 2 ppb. Concentrations in blood would be far lower and concentrations of parent BPA would be vanishingly small.
- WHO says action against BPA is premature. BPA eliminated through urination: WHO, AFP, November 10, 2010.
- EPA supports development of BPA alternative. Seeing Red: Next Installment in BPA-Paper Saga, Science News, November 9, 2010.
- Comment. This article mentions that EPA is working to development an alternative for BPA (i.e., bisphenol sulfonate) even though no finding that BPA is dangerous has been made. Also note that the reporter is unaware of the fact that there is no evidence that BPA is absorbed as such. In fact, BPA is metabolized to highly water soluble metabolites that are known to be estrogen inactive.
- Study claim: Skin no barrier to BPA. Skin Is No Barrier to BPA, Study Shows, US News & World Report, November 2, 2010.
- Study debunked. What is clearly interesting and useful about this paper is not the authors’ conclusion, but the actual data. The data show that in viable skin, BPA is metabolized to highly water soluble metabolites that are known to be estrogen inactive. It is the authors' claim that these metabolites would be converted back to free BPA in the body (last sentence of the abstract and last sentence of the text). That is speculative and not based on any data in the paper.”
- Study claim: BPA affects semen quality. Study of Chinese workers links BPA to sperm problems, Washington Post, October 28, 2010.
- Study debunked. Milloy S, BPA, semen quality study is Chinese junk, GreenHellBlog.com, October 28, 2010.
- Industry comment. Findings from Study about Chinese Workers' Exposure to BPA of Limited Relevance to U.S. Consumers, PR Newswire, October 28, 2010.
- Canada takes action against BPA. Government of Canada Takes Further Action to Protect Canadians From Risks Posed by Bisphenol A, Marketwire, October 13, 2010.
- Response from American Chemistry Council. Canada's Announcement Regarding BPA is Contrary to the Weight of Worldwide Scientific Evidence, PRNewswire, October 13, 2010.
- Study claim: Levels of worrisome chemical higher in female cashiers, Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2010.
- Comment: Exposure is not the same as toxicity. See e.g., Biedermann S et al., Transfer of bisphenol A from thermal paper to the skin, Anal Bioanal Chem, July 11, 2010 and Bisphenol A in cash register receipts, Centre for Xenobiotic Risk Research, University of Zurich, February 3, 2010.
- vom Saal allies launch new prosate cancer scare. New BPA findings help fill research gaps, October 6, 2010.
- Comment. This scare was launched via press conference with no new scientific study published or offered for review. Both Dr. Prins, who gave the lecture, and Dr. Heindel, the organizer, are allies of Fred vom Saal, and so are not objective and disinterested parties regarding their opinions of the BPA science. The press briefing was typical of the staged events that the anti-chemical activists do so well — maximized for media and no opportunity for examination of data and methods. Indeed a cynic might describe the press event as part of a campaign to distract attention from the recent European Food Safety Authority report that found, once again, no reason for concern regarding the safety of BPA. That activist campaign has claimed that the EFSA report ignored biomonitoring studies. And yesterday, there was an announcement of a new study to be published at the end of the month that, allegedly, will support the activists’ interpretation of the biomonitoring data. In short, expect to see more announcements of studies and results designed to distract attention from the EFSA report and keep the BPA issue highly visible in the public mind.
- Gender bending chemicals in plastics 'raises risk of prostate cancer, Daily Mail (UK), October 6, 2010.
- EU says BPA exposure OK. EU watchdog says no need to cut cap on BPA in food, Reuters, September 30, 2010.
- EFSA report. Scientific Opinion on Bisphenol A: evaluation of a study investigating its neurodevelopmental toxicity, review of recent scientific literature on its toxicity and advice on the Danish risk assessment of Bisphenol A, European Food Safety Authority, September 23, 2010.
- EFSA ‘not convinced’ by BPA exposure risk claims, European Plastics News, October 1, 2010.
- BPA in dental sealants safe. BPA-laced dental sealants OK for use in kids, study says, MSNBC.com, September 7, 2010.
- Study supports use of dental sealants, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, October 4, 2010.
Doings of the Notable and Notorious
- Marion Nestle supports precautionary principle on BPA. The Bisphenol A Debate: Partisanship in Action, The Atlantic, September 9, 2010.
- Scientific Opinion on Bisphenol A: evaluation of a study investigating its neurodevelopmental toxicity, review of recent scientific literature on its toxicity and advice on the Danish risk assessment of Bisphenol A, European Food Safety Authority, September 23, 2010.
- Entine J, A Toxic Setback for the Anti-Plastic Campaigners, American.com, April 19, 2011.
- Entine J, Scared to Death: Toxic Debate over Chemicals Threatens Risk-Based Regulations, Huffington Post, March 11, 2011.
- Kaiser K, The Bisphenol A Controversy, Canada Free Press, February 8, 2011.
- Goodman J, BPA ban could increase risks to public's health, Portland Press Herald, Janbuary 29, 2010.
- Logomasini A, Be Thankful for BPA-Lined Canned Goods this Thanksgiving, OpenMarket.org, November 15, 2010.
- Butterworth T, World Health Organization says don’t ban BPA, STATS.org, November 10, 2010.
- The Backup Plan's Anti-BPA Message, JunkScienceMom.com, October 29, 2010.
- Milloy S, BPA, semen quality study is Chinese junk, GreenHellBlog.com, October 28, 2010.
- Tell the EPA to Stay Away From Your Makeup!, JunkScienceMom.com, October 27, 2010.
- Milloy S, Activists are dangerous, not BPA, GreenHellBlog.com, October 26, 2010.
- Miller H, By Reporting Bad Science As Fact, Biased Media Help Create Panics, Investor's Business Daily, October 19, 2010.
- Goldberg R, Pseudoscience activists, trial lawyers use media to muddy debates, San Francisco Examiner, October 17, 2010.
- Entine J, With the European Union and a Slew of New Studies Reaffirming the Safety of BPA, At What Point Will the Science Prevail?, Huffington Post, October 13, 2010.
- Media Blackout: Sugar More Harmful Than BPA, JunkScienceMom.com, October 13, 2010.
- Barr B, Anti-BPA 'science' less than meets the eye, Washington Times, October 6, 2010.
- Butterworth T, Once again, Europe says BPA is safe, STATS.org, October 1, 2010.
- Stier J, Don’t be misled about BPA, Kennebec Journal, August 29, 2010.
- Barret E, Article overstates study's findings about BPA and testosterone in men, Environmental Health News, August 28, 2010.
- Goodman J, The unintended consequences of neglecting science, The Hill, August 25, 2010.
- Logomasini A, Seeking food safety, getting human harm, Washington Times, August 25, 2010.
- Logomasini A, Hype About Lobsters and BPA: Here We Go Again!, OpenMarket.org, August 24, 2010.
- BPA and Bears (Video), American Council on Science and Health, August 23, 2010.
- FDA Confirms Ability of Infants to Metabolize BPA, JunkScienceMom.com, August 17, 2010.
- Feinstein's Still Not Done, JunkScienceMom.com, August 13, 2010.
- Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment Declares BPA Safe, JunkScienceMom.com, August 4, 2010.
- European Food Safety Authority Finds No Scientific Basis for BPA Ban, JunkScienceMom.com, July 12, 2010.
- Backdoor Tactics- Extremist Attempts to Bypass Democracy via Judicial Fiat, JunkScienceMom.com, June 29, 2010.
- Straight Answers on BPA from Expert Julie E. Goodman, JunkScienceMom.com, June 29, 2010.
- The Science ands Policy of BPA, JunkScienceMOM.com, June 17, 2010.
- Lab Rat Junkies, JunkScienceMOM.com, June 15, 2010.
- Brent R, NGO's BPA Report Intended to Frighten, Not Enlighten, American Council on Science and Health, May 20, 2010.
- Feinstein's Shocking Announcement on BPA in Canned Foods, JunkScienceMom.com, May 18, 2010.
- Butterworth T, Minority Report: Did the President’s Cancer Panel Abandon Science for Scientific Politics?, STATS.org, May 13, 2010.
- What's the Big Rush to Ban BPA?, JunkScienceMom.com, May 13, 2010.
- BPA Scare Campaign Exposed – How to Profit from Non-Profits, FightNanny.com, May 10, 2010.
- BPA Scare Campaign Exposed - All the News That's Not Fit to Print, JunkScienceMom.com, May 6, 2010.
- Whelan E and Miller H, Precaution Without Principle, Forbes, May 5, 2010.
- BPA Scare Campaign Exposed - David Fenton, The Puppet Master, JunkScienceMom.com, April 30, 2010.
- Connecting the Dots Behind the Insidious BPA-Scare Campaign, JunkScienceMom.com, April 27, 2010.
- Whelan E, On Earth Day, praise BPA, The Daily Caller, April 22, 2010.
- The Language of the Anti-BPA Crowd, JunkScienceMom.com, April 20, 2010.
- Logomasini A, Short-sighted ban endangers food supply, Washington Examiner, April 13, 2010.
- Sharpe R, Let common sense guide you in the saga of bisphenol A, The Independent (UK), April 13, 2010.
- Butterworth T, Is BPA the New MMR?, STATS.org, April 7, 2010.
- Entine J, American Enterprise Institute The Troubling Case of Bisphenol A: At What Point Should Science Prevai?, American Enterprise Institute, March 2010.
- Fumento M, Of Killer Cans and Toxic Baby Bottles, Investor's Business Daily, February 2, 2010.
- Fumento M, Celling Fear: The Cell Phone Scare that Refuses to Die, January 22, 2010.
- Butterworth T, BPA and heart disease: Smoking gun or statistical smoke?, STATS.org, January 13, 2010.
- Logomasini A, The Nanny State Attack on BPA in Baby Bottles: Oregon and Beyond, Cascade Policy institute, January 2010.
- Butterworth T, Nicholas Kristof: STATS winner of the worst “science” journalist of the year, STATS.org, December 14, 2009.
- Goldin R, BPA and erectile dysfunction, STATS.org, November 17, 2009.
- Butterworth T, Consumer Reports "highly biased," says top European scientist: No need to avoid canned food, STATS.org, November 12, 2009.
- Butterworth T, Top US EPA scientist rejects Consumer Reports’ BPA claim, STATS.org, November 10, 2009.
- Butterworth T, The BPA controversy: When journalists can’t tell good evidence from bad, STATS.org, November 6, 2009.
- Butterworth T, Consumer Reports BPA study filled with factual errors, STATS.org, November 2, 2009.
- Butterworth T, New independent study by EPA refutes BPA risk, STATS.org, October 30, 2009.
- Doull J, Banning BPA Devalues Science, American Council on Science and Health, October 29, 2009.
- Butterworth T and Lichter S, Case of chemophobia, National Post, June 17, 2009.
- Corcoran T, No death by Bisphenol A, NationalPost.com, June 17, 2009.
- Miller H, Attack of the Rubber Duckies, Hoover Digest, June 16, 2009.
- Butterworth T, Science Suppressed: How America became obsessed with BPA, Stats.org, June 15, 2009.
- Lichter S, Are chemicals killing us?, STATS.org, May 21, 2009.
- Butterworth T, Media being spun in attack on FDA's credibility over BPA?, STATS.org, October 29, 2008.
- Butterworth T and Goldin R, Your Water Bottle is Not Going to Give You a Heart Attack, STATS.org, September 18, 2008.
- Milloy, S Activists Hit the (Plastic) Bottle Again, FoxNews.com, September 18, 2008.
- Krauss M, Science danger ahead: Baby bottles, BPA and the precautionary principle, National Post, June 19, 2008.
- Goldin R and Butterworth T, Why Journalism is Failing the Public on the Risk from Plastics, STATS.org, May 6, 2008.
- Whelan E, Chem-Phobia: A Phony Plastics Threat, New York Post, April 28, 2008.
- Basham P and Luik J, Phantom Plastic Peril, American Spectator Online, April 23, 2008.
- Foster P, The Globe's BPA crusade, National Post, April 21, 2008.
- Foster P, The great BPA panic of 2008, National Post, April 19, 2008.
- Foster P, The polluted debate on bisphenol A, National Post, April 17, 2008.
- Butterworth T, Should You Be Worried About Toxic Baby Bottles?, STATS.org, February 9, 2008.
- Ross G, Bisphenol-A (BPA) in Baby Bottles: Not a Concern for Parents, American Council on Science and Health, February 7, 2008.
- Milloy, S Schumer Chucks the FDA?, FoxNews.com, May 8, 2008.
- Milloy S, Anatomy of a Chemical Murder, FoxNews.com, April 24, 2008.
- Butterworth T, Water Worries: Does an EPA Expert Need a Chemistry Lesson?, STATS.org, July 20, 2007.
- Buterworth T, Seattle Post Intelligencer Dumbs Down Science in Honor of Mom, STATS.org, May 10, 2007.
- Butterworth T, Manufacturing Consensus, STATS.org, April 11, 2007.
- Butterworth T, Is That Plastic Bottle Making Me Fat?, STATS.org, March 7, 2007.
- Butterworth T, European Safety Review: No Risk from Bisphenol A Exposure, STATS.org, February 1, 2007.
- Butterworth T, Time’s Toy Reporting Scares Parents, STATS.org, December 13, 2006.
- Milloy S, California's Bogus Baby Bottle Scare, reprinted from Canada Free Press, April 25, 2005.
- Meister L, The Facts about Bisphenol A, American Council on Science and Health, January 4, 2005.
- Mangialetti N, Perilous Plastic, American Council on Science and Health, June 27, 2002.
- Fumento M, The Environmentalists' Scary Baby Bottle Blather, Washington Times, May 16, 1999.
What You Can Do