If you have a child that’s learning to ride a bike, you’re likely grateful for the helmet and knee pads they’re wearing on the road. And if you have a loved one who is a first responder or health care worker, you’re also probably grateful for the protective equipment, tools and supplies that keep them safe as they do their jobs.
Safety equipment, medical supplies, auto parts, building materials – there are many products around us that we entrust to keep us safe and protected. But you may not know that the safety attributes we appreciate in some everyday products come from an extraordinarily well-studied, chemical building-block known as Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is primarily used to produce polycarbonate plastic, a high-performing material vital in making many common consumer goods because of its strong, durable, clear, shatter-resistant, and lightweight attributes.
Polycarbonate plastic’s capabilities are so impressive that for over six decades, it has found its way into a wide range of consumer products and industrial applications.
But if you’re just learning about BPA and polycarbonate plastic for the first time, here are the three main benefits that you should know:
- BPA has unique properties that help promote resilience and durability
The keyboard you use at work. The swim goggles you wear in the pool. The new roller skates you bought for your birthday. Those are just a few examples of the many products made with polycarbonate plastic.
BPA’s properties result in products that are lightweight yet exceptionally resilient, which is why it has become such a critical part of our everyday lives. And it’s why BPA-based polycarbonate plastic has been used for decades to make parts for cars, ski equipment, medical devices, circuit boards, flat-screen televisions, smartphones and much more — improving the safety and quality of many of the products we cherish.
For example, bike helmets, police shields, reading glasses and bullet-proof glass are all shatter-resistant because of BPA-based polycarbonate plastic.
- BPA helps keep us safe
When firefighters rush into a burning building, they depend on the durability of their helmets and other protective equipment to keep them safe. When people are involved in automobile accidents, they depend on the strength of their vehicle bumpers to protect them. And when doctors perform surgery, they depend on high-quality tools that won’t break or disintegrate under high-stress conditions.
Polycarbonate plastic’s attributes provide high-performance benefits that enable a wide array of consumer and industrial products to perform well in intense or harsh settings. Polycarbonate plastic is commonly used to make panorama roofs for cars, helping lower the center of gravity and increase the vehicle’s stability. Because it is both transparent and durable, medical devices made with polycarbonate plastic provide surgeons with life-supporting applications like hemodialyzers, anesthesia containers, arterial filters, and blood oxygenators. And given their high-performance polycarbonate material, these devices can withstand repeated cleaning and sterilization.
- BPA contributes to environmental sustainability
BPA-based polycarbonate plastic is lighter and stronger than glass, so it can promote significant savings of energy and other resources without a sacrifice in performance.
A great example of this can be found in cars. The use of lighter-weight polycarbonate plastic helps reduce the weight of the car and produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. Polycarbonate window glazing weighs 40-60 percent less than laminated or tempered automotive glass. Polycarbonate is also a preferred plastic in front and rear auto headlamps due to its simultaneous durability and clarity, contributing to greater energy efficiency.
But the remarkable thing is that all these benefits to the environment don’t impact safety. Despite being lightweight, polycarbonate-blend bumpers have strong impact resistance to help protect passengers in collisions.
So you can see why BPA has proven to be such a critical chemical. Products made from polycarbonate plastic continue to impact our vital industries and contribute to innovative solutions that can help improve more lives worldwide.
It’ll be exciting to see what else the future holds for more innovative products made with BPA.
If you’re interested in learning more about how BPA plays a part in everyday items, check out our resources page.