Bisphenols (including BPA)
What is it?
A group of industrial chemicals used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics, some epoxy resins and thermal paper.
Where is it found?
Polycarbonate plastics are used for plastic dinnerware, bottles, sports equipment, toys, food packaging and medical devices. Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of water pipes and food/beverage cans to increase their shelf-life and preventing the metallic taste transferring to the food or beverage. Bisphenols are also used to develop dye in thermal paper used for sales receipts, public transport and parking tickets. Other products that may contain bisphenols include floorings, paints and sealants.
How can we be exposed to it?
By ingestion, bisphenols can migrate in small amounts into food and beverages stored in materials containing them i.e. swallowing food, water or beverages that have been in containers made with bisphenols or by having dental sealants that contain bisphenols. Small children may be exposed by hand-to-mouth and direct mouth contact with toy materials containing bisphenols. Furthermore, workers who manufacture products that contain bisphenols are also exposed.
What can exposure cause?
- Changes in the development and behaviour of infants and children;
- Changes in a developing fetus;
- Interference with the body’s natural hormones;
- Changes in reproductive function
How to reduce your risk
We can’t avoid every chemical that we come into contact with, but we can make more informed choices about what we eat, drink and use in our home:
- Check for bisphenol / BPA-free labels on plastic products, avoid using plastic products marked with recycle codes #3 or #7, as they contain BPA e.g. toys, food containers, personal care bottles, shower curtains, raincoats, flooring and outdoor furniture;
- Avoid heating plastics in the microwave, which can cause BPA and other bisphenols to leach into your food;
- Avoid food from cans that might be lined with BPA and other bisphenols;
- Replace plastic storage containers, bottles and travel cups with reusable glass, porcelain or stainless-steel ones;
- Avoid processed foods, wash and eat fresh foods as much as possible.
For more information please visit:
The Endocrine Society
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences