Updated July 2023
Based on how much you’ve heard about bisphenol A (BPA) in the media, it would be perfectly understandable if you concluded that BPA is public enemy #1. It’s apparently everywhere at unsafe levels and there is no way to escape.
Or is there? There must be somewhere we can go to avoid being harmed, but where? You won’t find the answer to that question in the popular media, but you will find the answer in a peer-reviewed study that was just published in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution.
At the outset, the researchers note, “[t]o evaluate BPA’s potential risk to health, it is important to know human daily intake.” After all, too much of almost anything would pose a risk to health. What we need to know is how much BPA people are actually exposed to and whether those levels pose a risk to health.
What the researchers realized is that an enormous amount of data on exposure to BPA is already available. It just wasn’t all in the same place where it could be most useful, until now.
It’s well known that people quickly eliminate BPA from the body through urine after exposure. Measuring BPA in urine is considered the best way to evaluate exposure to BPA since what goes in (i.e., exposure) comes out in urine where it’s easy to measure.
What the researchers did was search the scientific literature for studies that measured levels of BPA in urine. They found more than just a few studies: “[i]n total, we obtained over 140 peer-reviewed publications, which contained over 85,000 data [points] for urinary BPA concentrations derived from 30 countries.”
The researchers then sorted the data by age group (adult men and non-pregnant women, pregnant women, and children) and country to assess where in the world exposure levels were safe or unsafe. That assessment was done by comparison of exposure levels with safe intake limits set by government bodies worldwide.
The results may surprise you: “[i]t is evident that the national and global estimated human BPA daily intakes in this study are two to three orders of magnitude lower than that of the TDI [Tolerable Daily Intake]…recommended by several countries.” In other words, actual exposure to BPA is hundreds to thousands of times below the safe intake limit.
Due to the large volume of data, the researchers considered their results to be representative, meaning they can be relied upon as an accurate measure of exposure to BPA worldwide. The results also provide very strong support for the views of government bodies worldwide on the safety of BPA.
For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) answers the question “Is BPA safe?” with the unequivocal answer “Yes.”
So, to return to where we started, where in the world are you safe from BPA? Based on the data, and a lot of it, the answer is very simple – everywhere.