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Bisphenol A and environment
Additional Information
Environmental Safety

Environmental Exposure to BPA: Bisphenol A Occurrence In Waterways

Detection of bisphenol A in the environment is possible due to its potential release during manufacturing although the levels found in the environment are extremely low and pose no known risk to humans, wildlife or the environment. Levels of bisphenol A in the environment are currently being monitored by industry and government authorities in North America, Europe and Japan.

The trace amounts of bisphenol A that are sometimes detected in waterways have not been shown to have an adverse environmental impact. Additionally, the concentrations of bisphenol A found in waterways are generally well below the threshold concentrations for known ecotoxic effects, such as those used to determine toxicity to green algae, daphnids and fish.

Numerous publications have reported measured concentrations of BPA in streams and rivers in Japan, Europe and the United States. The median reported water concentrations from 21 European and 13 United States studies are 0.016 and 0.5 micrograms/L respectively (Cousins et al, 2002). In cases where individual concentration data are reported, many samples have no detectable level of BPA.

A recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey provides data on the occurrence of BPA (and numerous other substances) in a large number of U.S. streams, most of which were characterized as streams susceptible to contamination (Kolpin et al, 2002). Approximately 60% of the streams contained no detectable level of BPA (detection limit 0.09 micrograms/L), the median detected concentration was 0.14 micrograms/L, and only 2 streams were reported to contain BPA at levels above 1 microgram/L.

More recently, a Japanese study reported detectable BPA in 67 of 124 water samples selected from "Water Quality Monitoring" sites for downstream rivers. The median concentration of BPA, where detected, was 0.01 micrograms/L and 95% of the samples contained less than 0.24 micrograms/L of BPA (Japan Environment Agency).

In a 1996 study, the receiving waters upstream and downstream of the five BPA manufacturing sites in the U.S. had no detectable BPA at a 1 microgram/L detection limit. In a follow-up 1997 study, the receiving waters upstream and downstream of four of the five BPA manufacturing sites and two processing sites had no detectable BPA at a detection limit (quantification with confirmation) of 1 microgram/L. The fifth manufacturing site had BPA concentrations ranging from 2 to 8 micrograms/L upstream and from 7 to 8 micrograms/L downstream. This facility's discharge makes up a large percentage of the receiving water flow during dry conditions, when samples were collected. Some BPA was apparently present in the discharged effluent and likely flowed back into the area where the upstream samples were collected (Staples et al, 2000).

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