Steven Hentges, Ph.D
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Although you may not know it, there’s a good chance you’ll be getting some BPA in your holiday gifts this year.  That’s a good thing because BPA helps your gifts keep on giving long after the holidays are over.
 
If you’re a skier or snowboarder, someone who cares about your safety might give you a polycarbonate helmet to protect your head if you fall.  Polycarbonate is lightweight and highly shatter-resistant, making it an ideal material for safety helmets of all types.
 
That same thoughtful person might also give you a new set of goggles to protect your eyes when you’re flying downhill.  It’s likely that the lenses, even the prescription ones, will be made from polycarbonate.  It’s clear like glass, but it doesn’t weigh as much and it’s not likely to break.
 
When you’re not on the slopes, there’s a good chance you’ll be using your new cell phone or tablet with a polycarbonate case.  Just like it protects your head if you fall, polycarbonate also helps to protect your electronic devices if you drop them.
 
On the more practical side, you might receive some new hardside luggage to pack your stuff for the big ski trip.  Everything packed inside will be safe and secure if the shell is made from polycarbonate, which is used for the highest quality luggage.
 
And if you’re really lucky, you’ll receive a set of keys for a fancy new car with a big red bow on top to take you on that trip.  From the sleek headlamp lenses to the sunroof, there’s plenty of polycarbonate in the car, and let’s not forget about the primer coating made from an epoxy resin that protects the auto body from corrosion.  These lightweight and durable materials will help your car run more efficiently and last longer.
 
So where’s the BPA, you ask?  That’s a bit of a trick question.  You may hear a lot about BPA, but you actually contact very little of it.  Almost all BPA produced is used to make two very useful materials – polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.  We receive the benefits of these materials in numerous products we use every day, whether we know it or not.
 
Two big reasons why these materials are so widely used is that they provide high performance benefits and government agencies worldwide have determined they are safe.  If you care about shatter-resistance, clarity, and light weight, polycarbonate’s unique set of attributes is hard to beat.   With high durability and chemical resistance, epoxy resins excel as protective coatings in a wide range of applications.
 
To the extent we contact any BPA in our daily lives, we can be confident of its safety.  Over the last 10 years, U.S. federal government scientists have conducted a rigorous scientific program aimed at addressing uncertainties about the safety of BPA.  Most recently, the final report on the CLARITY Core Study, a study of unprecedented scope and magnitude for BPA, was released.
 
Taken together, the results from over 30 studies in this research program, with the CLARITY study as the capstone, leave little doubt.  As stated succinctly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on its website – “Is BPA safe? Yes.”  You can take that to the ski slopes.