Bisphenol A is a chemical compound used to produce polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Scientist aren’t completely sure, but issues arising from bisphenol A could include: disrupted hormone levels, affected brain development and behavior in infants, cancer, heart problems, ADHD, obesity, diabetes, and other complications. And in infants and children the effects could be worse.
You know this chemical is potentially harmful to humans, but how do you protect yourself or others from it? Knowing what bisphenol A is, along with items that contain it, associated dangers, and possible benefits, you’ll be able to protect yourself, family, friends, and others.
What Is Bisphenol A?
Bisphenol A, also famous as BPA, is an industrial chemical in use since the 1960’s to make plastics and resins. It was first the subject of research in the 1890’s. By the 1950’s, chemists saw it could make strong polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
For those who do not know, polycarbonate plastics are found in food and drink packaging (water and infants bottles), compact discs, and medical devices. Respectively, epoxy resins are lacquers that coat the insides of metal products like food cans, bottles, tops, and water supply pipes.
Bisphenol A’s main entry is through people’s diet. It is present in the air, dust, and water, but the main source comes from food and beverages. It can seep into food from the resin coating of food cans, plastic tableware, food storage containers, and water and baby bottles. BPA seeping into foods may be dependent on the temperature of the container, not the age of it.
Items that Contain Bisphenol A
Five foods that contain Bisphenol A are:
- Canned Foods;
- Beer and Wine;
Canned foods like soups, juices, beans, tomatoes, and the like are most likely to contain BPA. When these foods are canned, BPA is used in the plastic lining for protection. The Environmental Working Group saw the highest concentrations of BPA in infant formula, ravioli, and chicken soup.
Bisphenol A can seep into the pizza from pizza boxes. Even some recycled pizza boxes have bishpenol A.
BPA is common in most canned soft drinks, along with water. The plastic lining in the can or bottle can allow the chemical to seep into the soda. For beer and wine, particularly for beer cans, the risk of bisphenol A seeping into your drink is even greater because it is highly soluble in alcohol.
Dangers of Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is an endocrine disrupter. It either mimics or interferes hormone production and disrupts the endocrine system. This system regulates mood, growth and development, metabolism, how tissues function, and the reproductive process.
There are possible health concerns for bisphenol A, particularly concerning pregnant women, fetuses, and young children. Adults are affected to, but slightly less. Risks include:
- Structural brain damage;
- Early puberty, infertility;
- Heightened obesity risk;
- Altered immune function;
- Change in gender-specific behavior/deviant sexual behavior;
- Early puberty, infertility;
- Stimulated prostate cancer cells;
- Enlarged prostate and decreased sperm production.
In the past, much research had animals as test subjects. This kept skeptics calm, saying that bisphenol A is safe because its effects may not be the same for humans.
However, research has now been conducted on humans, and BPA shows similar effects that it does in animals. BPA in cans and plastic bottles can raise your blood pressure in a few hours after ingestion. The NHANES study in 2010 showed that adults with high levels of BPA in their urine were twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease compared to those with the lowest levels.
Are there Benefits for Bisphenol A?
Bisphenol A provides high-performance benefits for consumer and industrial products.
- Store Receipts. Thermal paper receipts contain BPA, apart of the heat-sensitive coating for inkless printing. This makes for speedy, reliable, cost-effective printing
- Packaging/Storage. Even though bisphenol A for food packaging can be harmful, it can help to preserve food and somewhat enhance food safety.
- Medical. Polycarbonate plastic makes up parts of medical devices and housing. BPA allows for optical clarity, meaning medical staff can directly observe the flow of blood and other fluids to ensure proper flow. It’s also used to see an obtrusion, such as air bubbles, during medical procedures like surgery.
- Safety equipment. Bisphenol A strengthens products for human health and safety. Helments, police shields, reading glasses, and bullet-proof glass is shatter-resistant because of bisphenol A.
Bisphenol may be harmful, but there’s a lot of good associated with it as well. Bisphenol can negatively impact hormone levels, brain development, cause obesity, ADHD, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other problems, but there are good things it does. It can preserve food, create shatter-resistant barriers, protect hard-hat workers, help medical staff do their job better, and keep ink costs for receipts at a minimum.
What are your thoughts on bisphenol A? Do you think the benefits outweigh the risk, or do you think this chemical should be avoided at all costs? Leave a comment below. And if you’re somewhat of an expert on the topic definitely leave an opinion to enlighten us all.