The unfortunate truth about “BPA free”

According to researchers from UCLA and the School of Environmental and Chemical Engineering at Shanghai University, BPA-alternative BPS is dangerous, too. Published in the journal Endocrinology, the researchers’ study used a zebrafish to show how BPS contact screwed with brain cells and genes used in reproduction and growth. What this might reveal about humans.

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Common alternative to BPA plastic is equally harmful in animal testing, study finds
"BPA-free" doesn't necessarily mean it's safe.
By Peter Dockrill

Public concerns over the potential harm of bisphenol A (BPA) – an industrial chemical used to strengthen plastic in things like water bottles and children’s toys – has seen many manufacturers develop ‘safer’, BPA-free alternatives in recent years. But one chemical that’s being used as a BPA substitute might not actually be any safer, research has found.

According to a new study by researchers in the US, a BPA alternative called bisphenol S (BPS) is in some ways just as harmful as BPA to zebrafish, disrupting their reproductive system and affecting embryonic development. The findings might mean it’s also potentially harmful to humans too, although we have no evidence of this as yet.

“Our study shows that making plastic products with BPA alternatives does not necessarily leave them safer,” said reproductive endocrinologist Nancy Waynefrom the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). “Our findings are frightening – consider it the aquatic version of the canary in the coal mine.”

The researchers found that when exposed to either BPA or BPS at low levels, the physiology of zebrafish at the embryonic stage demonstrated changes in as little as 25 hours.

“Egg-hatching time accelerated, leading to premature birth,” said Wayne. “The embryos developed much faster than normal in the presence of BPA or BPS.”

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‘BPA-free’ plastic accelerates embryonic development, disrupts reproductive system

Companies advertise “BPA-free” as a safer version of plastic products ranging from water bottles to sippy cups to toys. Many manufacturers stopped used Bisphenol A to strengthen plastic after animal studies linked it to early puberty and a rise in breast and prostate cancers.  

Yet new UCLA research demonstrates that BPS (Bisphenol S), a common replacement for BPA, speeds up embryonic development and disrupts the reproductive system.  

Reported in the Feb. 1 edition of the journal Endocrinology, the animal study is the first to examine the effects of BPA and BPS on key brain cells and genes that control the growth and function of organs involved in reproduction.

Caption: On the far right, a zebrafish embryo breaks free from a group of unhatched sibling eggs. Credit: Zebrafish Lab

BPA harms dental enamel in young animals, mimicking human tooth defect

A tooth enamel abnormality in children, molar incisor hypomineralization (MIH), may result from exposure to the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), authors of a new study conclude after finding similar damage to the dental enamel of rats that received BPA. The study results will be presented Friday at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego.

“Human enamel defects may be used as an early marker of exposure to BPA and similar-acting endocrine disruptors,” Babajko said.

Thermal paper cash register receipts account for high bisphenol A (BPA) levels in humans

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as water bottles, dental composites and resins used to line metal food and beverage containers, and also is used in thermal paper cash register receipts. Now, research conducted at the University of Missouri is providing the first data that BPA from thermal paper used in cash register receipts accounts for high levels of BPA in humans. Subjects studied showed a rapid increase of BPA in their blood after using a skin care product and then touching a store receipt with BPA.

“BPA first was developed by a biochemist and tested as an artificial estrogen supplement,” said Frederick vom Saal, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science at MU. “As an endocrine disrupting chemical, BPA has been demonstrated to alter signaling mechanisms involving estrogen and other hormones. Store and fast food receipts, airline tickets, ATM receipts and other thermal papers all use massive amounts of BPA on the surface of the paper as a print developer. The problem is, we as consumers have hand sanitizers, hand creams, soaps and sunscreens on our hands that drastically alter the absorption rate of the BPA found on these receipts.”

In the study, researchers tested human subjects who cleaned their hands with hand sanitizer and then held thermal paper receipts. As an added step, subjects who had handled the thermal paper then ate French fries with their hands. The result was that BPA was absorbed very rapidly, vom Saal said.

“Our research found that large amounts of BPA can be transferred to your hands and then to the food you hold and eat as well as be absorbed through your skin,” vom Saal said. “BPA exhibits hormone-like properties and has been proven to cause reproductive defects in fetuses, infants, children and adults as well as cancer, metabolic and immune problems in rodents. BPA from thermal papers will be absorbed into your blood rapidly; at those levels, many diseases such as diabetes and disorders such as obesity increase as well. Use of BPA or other similar chemicals that are being used to replace BPA in thermal paper pose a threat to human health.”

BPA exposure during pregnancy causes oxidative stress in child, mother

Exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy can cause oxidative damage that may put the baby at risk of developing diabetes or heart disease later in life, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology.

Bisphenol A is a chemical used to manufacture plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is found in a variety of consumer products, including plastic bottles, food cans and cash register receipts.

Research has shown BPA is an endocrine disruptor – a chemical that mimics, blocks or interferes with the body’s hormones. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that more than 96 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies.

Oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of free radicals – highly reactive chemicals that have the potential to harm cells when the body processes oxygen – and the body cannot neutralize the chemicals quickly enough to correct the imbalance. Some environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke, ionizing radiation or some metals may contain large amounts of free radicals or encourage the body to produce more of them, according to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

“This study provides the first evidence that BPA exposure during pregnancy can induce a specific type of oxidative stress known as nitrosative stress in both the mother and offspring,” said the senior author, Vasantha Padmanabhan, MS, PhD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. “Oxidative stress is associated with insulin resistance and inflammation, which are risk factors for diabetes and other metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular disease.”

Almudena Veiga-Lopez, Subramaniam Pennathur, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Heather B. Patisaul, Dana C. Dolinoy, Lixia Zeng, Vasantha Padmanabhan. Impact of Gestational Bisphenol A on Oxidative Stress and Free Fatty Acids: Human Association and Interspecies Animal Testing Studies. Endocrinology, 2015; en.2014-1863 DOI: 10.1210/en.2014-1863


Is BPA really that bad for you?

Asked by anonymous


BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a compound found in the polycarbonate plastics that make up many consumer products, especially food and drink containers. This prevalence has prompted widespread concern about the safety of BPA.

The National Toxicology Program surveyed scientific literature on BPA and concluded that high levels of exposure warrants concern of developmental toxicity in infants and children. However, concern for adults is thought to be negligible.

The truth is that we still do not know the full extent of BPA’s effects because its effects have not been studied until recently. Emerging studies on rodent development suggest that BPA acts through an endocrine-disrupting mechanism. This means that BPA may be able to disrupt hormonal systems in the body as they develop.

People are concerned about BPA because of the possibility that it could have dangerous long-term effects, though studies in this area have not yet been completed because the concern over BPA toxicity is relatively recent.

The risk of BPA exposure can be minimized by choosing glass containers whenever possible and avoiding canned foods. Plastics, especially Type 3 and Type 7, are especially noted for high BPA content. 

Thank you for your question, and to read more, please visit http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/.

Answered by Claire R., Expert Leader.

Edited by Carrie K.

BPA Chemical Affects Brain Development in Zebrafish

Bisphenol A, a chemical known as BPA that’s commonly used in consumer products, reportedly affects brain development in young zebrafish, causing concern that it can also negatively impact human brains still developing in the womb, according to new research.

While it would seem that zebrafish and humans are drastically different, and therefore their responses to environmental stimuli are different too, in actuality about 80 percent of the genes found in people have a counterpart in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Not to mention that both organisms share similar developmental processes, so it may be that bisphenol is dangerous to us as well.

Public concern had caused manufacturers to modify their products and replace BPA with a chemical called bisphenol S (BPS), which is often labeled as “BPA-free” and presumed to be safer. However, according to a new report in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exposure to both BPA and BPS changed the timing of when neurons were formed in the brains of zebrafish, leading to hyperactive behavior.

“These findings are important because they support that the prenatal period is a particularly sensitive stage, and reveals previously unexplored avenues of research into how early exposure to chemicals may alter brain development,” Cassandra Kinch, a PhD student at the University of Calgary, who was involved in the research, said in a press release.

(Photo : mikhailg / Fotolia)

Are BPA-Free Bottles Just As Bad?

You may have heard by now that bisphenol A, a chemical commonly-used to make hard plastic and is found in many water bottles, can have harmful health effects. Due to evidence suggesting BPA can impair brain and reproductive development and other reasons, the FDA banned its use in baby bottles two years ago. Since then, evidence increasingly suggests that the chemical that manufacturers have replaced it with, bisphenol S, may be just as bad.”

Learn more from popsci.

BPA exposure linked to autism spectrum disorder, study reports

A newly published study is the first to report an association between bisphenol-A (BPA), a common plasticizer used in a variety of consumer food and beverage containers, with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. The study, by researchers at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), shows that BPA is not metabolized well in children with ASD.

The research appears online in Autism Research.

“It has been suspected for a lot of years that BPA is involved in autism, but there was no direct evidence,” said T. Peter Stein, of RowanSOM and the study’s lead author. “We’ve shown there is a link. The metabolism of BPA is different in some children with autism than it is in otherwise healthy children.”

T. Peter Stein, Margaret D. Schluter, Robert A. Steer, Lining Guo, Xue Ming. Bisphenol A Exposure in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Research, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/aur.1444

Infographic: BPA Exposure Has Impact Three Generations Later

When scientists exposed pregnant mice to levels of bisphenol A equivalent to those considered safe in humans, three generations of female mouse offspring experienced significant reproductive problems, including declines in fertility, sexual maturity and pregnancy success, the scientists report in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2015/04/infographic-bpa-exposure-has-impact-three-generations-later



Synergistic Effects of Common Chemicals* Found in our Food, Environment and Personal Care Products Now Linked with Cancer, say Scientists

*The chemicals studied included bisphenol A (BPA), used in canned food and plastic food and beverage containers; rotenone, a broad-spectrum insecticide; paraquat, an agricultural herbicide; and triclosan, an antibacterial agent used in soaps, toothpastes, and numerous other personal care products, as well as cosmetics.


Common chemicals may act together to increase cancer risk

Common food, personal care products/cosmetics and environmental chemicals assumed to be safe at low doses may act separately or together to disrupt human tissues in ways that eventually lead to cancer, according to a task force of nearly 200 scientists from 28 countries, including one from Oregon State University.

In a nearly three-year investigation the scientists studied low-dose effects of 85 common chemicals not considered to be carcinogenic to humans.

The researchers reviewed the actions of these chemicals against a long list of mechanisms that are important for cancer development. Drawing on hundreds of laboratory studies, large databases of cancer information, and models that predict cancer development, they compared the chemicals’ biological activity patterns to 11 known cancer “hallmarks” – distinctive patterns of cellular and genetic disruption associated with early development of tumors…

The researchers learned that 50 of the 85 chemicals had been shown to disrupt functioning of cells in ways that correlated with known early patterns of cancer, even at the low, presumably benign levels at which most people are exposed.

The study is part of the Halifax Project, sponsored by the Canadian nonprofit organization Getting to Know Cancer. The organization’s mission is to advance scientific knowledge about cancer linked to environmental exposures. The team’s findings are published in a series of papers in a special issue of the journal Carcinogenesis.


Journal Source: Zhiwei Hu et al. Assessing the carcinogenic potential of low-dose exposures to chemical mixtures in the environment: the challenge ahead. Carcinogenesis, 2015; 36 (Suppl 1): S254 DOI: 10.1093/carcin/bgv039



To minimize the potential for adverse synergistic effects of common chemicals, avoid the ones you can. Eat a diet of clean, fresh whole foods that are either unprocessed or minimally processed—and avoid highly processed foods (and their packaging).  Minimize BPA exposure by avoiding canned foods and instead opting for fresh or frozen versions, and avoid drinks in plastic containers and opt for those sold in glass bottles or in containers marked ‘BPA free”. Minimize exposure to triclosan by avoiding antibacterial soaps, toothbrushes and toothpastes that list triclosan on the label. And to minimize exposure to synthetic pesticides and herbicides, buy organic where possible.

Here’s Why You Should Skip Your Next Receipt

Most Millennials have likely heard about the negative health effects of BPA. You may have ditched your Nalgene water bottle when you found out that the plastic contained the endocrine-disrupting chemical. If you’re particularly cautious like me, you might even buy the more costly BPA-free cans of soup at your neighborhood grocery store (when you can afford them). But what about the receipt given after purchase? Ever wonder why the paper feels slightly powdery?

The receipt coating is BPA, too. And the level of BPA on receipts is much higher than those found in the linings of canned food. Plus, the chemical isn’t “fixed” like it is in plastics, making it even easier to absorb in this format – and possibly worse.