Contact Us Search Register Help
Bisphenol A safety
BISPHENOL-A QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What is BPA and how is it used?
What does the study published in Current Biology say?
What do government experts and regulators think of the study?
Given the questions raised by the Current Biology study, how can we be sure BPA is safe?

Is it possible for a consumer to come into contact with an unsafe amount of BPA?
Would washing a polycarbonate container in a dishwasher or using it in a microwave cause unsafe exposure to BPA?
What should I do if a baby bottle gets cloudy?
Where can I go for more information on this issue?

 

What is BPA and how is it used?

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical building block used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Products made with polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins are widely used by consumers because they make our lives safer and easier.

Polycarbonate is often used in place of glass because it is clear, lightweight, heat-resistant, and shatter-resistant, a significant safety advantage. It is used in a variety of everyday products like eyeglass lenses, reusable food and drink containers and consumer electronics. Polycarbonate is so tough it is also used as bullet-resistant glass and is used to make bicycle helmets and other safety equipment to protect people from injuries.

Epoxy resins are inert materials used as linings in metal cans to protect foods and beverages from spoilage and other contamination. They are also used in electrical equipment, adhesives and a variety of protective coatings.

Back

What does the study published in Current Biology say?

In a paper published in Current Biology, Dr. Patricia Hunt and her co-authors reported finding a chromosomal abnormality in mouse eggs after exposure to BPA. The research did not look for any potential effects on reproduction or development, and Dr. Hunt herself has acknowledged that no connection between her results and human health has been established.

It is important to put the single Current Biology study in the context of the research that has already been conducted on BPA. Authoritative studies, conducted using internationally recognized standards for research on genetic, reproductive and developmental effects, have found no adverse health effects at levels anywhere near levels consumers might encounter.
What are the limitations of the Current Biology study?

First, Dr. Hunt's study is preliminary research. It does not follow internationally accepted guidelines to test for health effects, and it has not yet been reproduced in a second lab, meaning Dr. Hunt's findings are unproven.

Second, and more importantly, Dr. Hunt's conclusions are so speculative as to be scientifically dubious. She has looked at a small number of developing cells at an early stage, before they divide and complete their transition to egg cells. By taking a few early snapshots in this dynamic process, she theorizes that abnormalities will occur at a later stage when the egg cells are formed, fertilized and develop into an embryo. There is no need to speculate. Authoritative studies have examined what happens when animals are fed BPA in small, medium and large amounts. They develop and reproduce normally except when they are fed extraordinarily large amounts, levels far beyond levels consumers might encounter.

Back

What do government experts and regulators think of the study?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the Current Biology article and has not altered any of its safe use determinations, nor has it indicated any intention to do so. Following publication of the study, George Pauli, Associate Director for Science and Policy in the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety, commented, "We don't have any reason to believe that there's any effect." Use of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins in food and beverage containers is authorized by the FDA based on the agency's assessment of available safety information. That information demonstrates that these products can be safely used in food contact applications.

Back

Given the questions raised by the Current Biology study, how can we be sure BPA is safe?

Numerous studies conducted according to internationally recognized standards have looked specifically for reproductive and developmental health effects. These studies have consistently found no such effects below, at and as much as 4000 times above the levels tested in the Current Biology study. These studies, along with the fact that the U.S. FDA reviewed the Current Biology study and continues to believe that products made with polycarbonate and epoxy resins are safe for use in contact with food, provide strong reassurance of the safety of these materials. Based on the totality of the research, governments around the world continue to permit the use of polycarbonate and epoxy resins in food containers.

The key studies on which experts, government officials and industry rely for the conclusion that there are no reproductive or developmental effects from exposure to BPA at levels anywhere near levels a consumer might encounter include:

  • A continuous breeding study in mice, conducted by the U.S. government's National Toxicology Program, showed no effects on reproduction at a dose approximately 4000 times higher than the highest dose tested in the Current Biology study.

  • A study conducted at the Research Triangle Institute examined parents and three offspring generations of rats exposed to BPA. No evidence of developmental or reproductive effects was found at any level remotely close to levels consumers might encounter.

  • A similar two-generation study sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare also found no developmental or reproductive effects at any dose tested. This study also included two behavioral tests of offspring, including a learning test, and found no effect of BPA at any dose.

Back

Is it possible for a consumer to come into contact with an unsafe amount of BPA?

It is virtually impossible to do so, according to government and industry tests conducted in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The levels consumers may encounter are typically 1 million times lower than levels found to have no adverse effects and are below government safety standards. A person would have to consume more than 1,300 pounds of food and beverages in contact with polycarbonate or more than 500 pounds of canned food and beverages every day for a lifetime to exceed the safe level of BPA set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Back

Would washing a polycarbonate container in a dishwasher or using it in a microwave cause unsafe exposure to BPA?

No. Studies by government agencies, academia and industry have examined the typical ways consumers use polycarbonate products, including microwaving, washing in a dishwasher, sterilizing, and storage at a variety of temperatures. These studies have found that any amount of BPA consumers may encounter is far below the EPA safe level.

Back

What should I do if a baby bottle gets cloudy?

Over time, polycarbonate plastic can become cloudy from normal wear-and-tear on the surface. There is no health-based reason to stop using a bottle that becomes cloudy. Of course, if a bottle is cracked or is no longer performing the function that you want, then it should be replaced.

Back

Where can I go for more information on this issue?

For more information, please visit www.bisphenol-a.org and www.plasticsinfo.org.

Back

   
 

Questions and Answers
about BPA

Information About the Safety of BPA