Thousands of scientific studies have linked the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) common in U.S. food packaging and consumer products to a host of very serious health problems for both children and adults. Despite the scientific evidence of the link between BPA and serious health concerns*, U.S. regulators such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have maintained that the BPA levels consumers are exposed to is “safe” and that the chemical therefore does not need to be banned or further regulated in the U.S. as it is in some other industrialized nations.
But now the position that current BPA exposure levels for U.S. consumers is “safe” has been empirically challenged. Using new direct testing methods, scientific experts on the chemical BPA have made a new discovery: Previous estimates of the levels of BPA consumers are exposed to each day have been based on flawed, inaccurate testing methods. The previous measurements and estimates that have been used by regulatory agencies–including the FDA**–have underestimated exposure levels by as much as 44 times. With new, more advanced methods*** scientists are now able to see that previous estimates of exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical are far greater than regulators and legislators believed when establishing guidelines for what is “safe” exposure levels for U.S. children and adults.
*A small sample of scientific research linking BPA to serious health problems:
**The FDA has evaluated data from studies measuring BPA in human urine and determined that human exposure to the chemical is at very low, and therefore, safe levels. This new research challenges that assumption and raises questions about not only consumer exposure to BPA, but also other chemicals, including BPA replacements, that are assessed using indirect methods.
***Scientists have now developed a direct way of measuring BPA that more accurately accounts for BPA metabolites, the compounds that are created as the chemical passes through the human body. Previously, most studies had to rely on an indirect process to measure BPA metabolites, using an enzyme solution made from a snail to transform the metabolites back into whole BPA, which could then be measured. The new method is able to directly measure the BPA metabolites themselves without using the enzyme solution.
The research team is conducting further experiments into BPA measurement, as well as other chemicals that may also have been measured in this manner, a category that includes environmental phenols such as parabens, benzophenone, triclosan found in some cosmetics and soaps, and phthalates found in many consumer products including toys, food packaging and personal care products.
Journal Reference: Roy Gerona, Frederick S vom Saal, Patricia A Hunt. BPA: have flawed analytical techniques compromised risk assessments? The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2019; Overview source; DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587(19)30381-X