Bisphenol A: A Look at its Uses and Key Concerns

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a frequently produced industrial chemical substance, yet it is one for which controversy and significant debate exist regarding its safety. In this blog post, we take a look at BPA and review some of the concerns surrounding it.

A Look at Bisphenol A

Chemical NameBisphenol A
Chemical FormulaC15H16O2 or (CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2
CAS Registry Number80-05-7

First synthesized more than a century ago, BPA has been used for decades in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. These two uses alone account for the vast majority of BPA produced (over 90 percent).

BPA’s properties have made it a common component of food and drink packaging, such as plastic water bottles, the lining of metal food cans, and other food contact applications. A principal source of human exposure to BPA is via the consumption of food and beverages.

Some Key Concerns

BPA has long been a subject of debate due to concerns about its safety. A key concern associated with BPA is its apparent ubiquity. As one of the highest volume chemical substances produced worldwide, its environmental release and presence is extremely widespread. Another principal concern about BPA, related to this, is the extent of exposure among humans. In a 2003-2004 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BPA was found to be present in 93% of individuals six years of age and older. Additional concerns stem from findings that exposure to the chemical can yield reproductive and developmental effects. Within the body, BPA acts as a xenoestrogen and binds to and activates estrogen receptors, exhibiting estrogenic activity in both males and females. It can also act as an antiandrogen, binding to receptors for androgens and hindering the normal action of these hormones

The debate on the safety of BPA is reflected in the differing positions held by various governmental agencies throughout the world. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, maintains that current approved uses of BPA in food containers and food packaging are safe. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), in contrast, has concluded that BPA should be listed as a substance of very high concern given its endocrine disrupting properties.

As questions and concerns persist, debate regarding BPA’s safety is expected to continue for some time. Additional research and consideration will be necessary before a more consistent opinion is reached.

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