Alarming Brain Damage Risk from BPA and BPS, say scientists

Endocrine disrupting chemical BPA (bisphenol A) and its evil twin BPS (aka, BPA-Free; bisphenol S) which allows manufacturers to now list their food and drink containers and other products* as “BPA-Free” on the labels, is causing concerns among scientists that these chemicals could “seriously damage” human brains.  Numerous scientific findings have linked BPA to serious health concerns* and more recently, evidence of similar outcomes has been mounting from studies on BPS (aka the BPA-Free chemical)**.

Study overview

A new study by scientists at the University of Bayreuth in Germany studied the impact of both BPA and its chemical cousin Bisphenol S (BPS) had on the nerve cells of goldfish.  The recent study focused on the Mauthner cells in goldfish, which are the two largest nerve cells in fish brains, according to the outlet. The cells are part of all sensory stimuli and help vertebrates escape from predators.

Using intracellular in vivo recordings, the team found a breakdown in the key coordination between brain cells that inhibit downstream cells and others that excite downstream cells, a delicate relationship that is necessary for a healthy nervous system. The team found that the plasticizers impact the chemical and electrical transmission of the signals via the synapses and, furthermore, interfere with circuits that are key to processing acoustic and visual stimuli. A breakdown in the excitation-inhibition relationship has been linked to a range of nervous system disorders.

The study also showed a breakdown in the operation of nervous system functions and disruption in the processing of acoustic and visual stimuli.  Scientists believe the effects suffered by goldfish from exposure to BPS and BPA can be mimicked in humans.

“We were surprised how many vital brain functions in fish are affected by the plasticizers used in numerous industries.  This damage, as we were able to show, does not occur immediately. However, when the brain cells are exposed to small amounts of BPA or BPS for a month, the damage is unmistakable.”

-Dr. Elisabeth Schirmer, study scientist

“The findings obtained through studies on fish brains justify the assessment that BPA and BPS can also seriously damage the brains of adult humans.”

-Dr. Peter Machnik, study scientist

*According to a 2018 report, both BPA and BPS are used as color developers and many businesses make their receipts with these chemicals. And a report from researchers at the State University of New York at Albany and the Chinese Academy of Sciences noted that nearly 90 percent of human exposure to BPS can be traced to receipts.


**In recent years, there have been reports of BPA and BPS being linked to childhood obesity and altering hormones in teens.  Manufacturers using BPS in their products have put “BPA-free” labels on packages despite a 2020 study that BPS “can fundamentally alter fetal brain development.” (source)


Journal reference: Schirmer, E., Schuster, S. & Machnik, P. Bisphenols exert detrimental effects on neuronal signaling in mature vertebrate brains. Communications Biol ogy, 4, 465 (2021).