The FDA has declared that bisphenol A (BPA) is safe at the current levels occurring in foods, but a number of myths about BPA continue to cause concern and confusion in the public. Click to read some of the common myths about BPA and the realities we know from extensive scientific study.
Myth: Consumers should be concerned about the presence of BPA in canned foods and food stored in polycarbonate food containers.Reality:
There is no need for concern. Government bodies around the world have concluded that the levels of human exposure to BPA from all sources combined, including food packaging, do not pose a risk to human health.
Further, many studies have found that the amount of BPA that can migrate into foods and beverages from polycarbonate containers is minute. In fact, a consumer would have to ingest more than 1,300 pounds of food and beverages in contact with polycarbonate plastic each day just to reach the safe intake level set by U.S. government agencies.
Visit our Key Studies page to see the science and learn more about BPA and health.
Myth: I will be harmed from BPA exposure from other sources, such as thermal receipt paper.Reality:
There is no need for consumer concern about BPA exposure from other sources. In fact, recent data from the CDC show that total exposure to BPA, from all sources, is extremely low – about 1,000 times below the safe intake levels set by government bodies in the U.S. and Canada. Available data suggest that BPA is not readily absorbed through the skin and any that does is quickly eliminated from the body.
Further, while some receipts made from thermal paper can contain BPA, the most relevant experimental data show very little BPA exposure from scenarios that are representative of real-life contact with thermal receipt paper. Recent studies from the U.S. National Toxicology Program and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health revealed that cashiers handling thermal receipt paper throughout a work shift were not exposed to high levels of BPA. Learn more about BPA and thermal receipt paper here.
Visit our Key Studies page to see the science and learn more about BPA exposure.
Myth: BPA in baby teething products is a cause for concernReality:
While a December 2016 study in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology, reported the presence of trace amounts of BPA in a range of baby teething products marketed as BPA-free, there is no known or expected use of BPA, or materials made from BPA, in teethers. Further, the researchers did not investigate whether or not BPA identified in testing may have come from contamination as opposed to the teething products themselves. More importantly, however, this study focuses on the mere presence of chemicals, which does not equate with harm. In fact, according to the researchers themselves, the maximum level of BPA reported in this study are two to three orders of magnitude (100-1000 times) lower than the stringent safe intake limit established by the European Food Safety Authority. Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that BPA is safe at the very low levels to which consumers are typically exposed. Recently, FDA scientists published the results of a large-scale government-funded study demonstrating that low-dose exposure to BPA did not result in adverse health effects. In addition, we know from other studies that even premature infants have ample capacity and capability to metabolize and eliminate BPA, which indicates that low level exposures are unlikely to cause health effects.
Myth: Occupational exposure to BPA can be harmful.Reality:
It is to be expected that handling chemicals in the workplace will result in exposure, and there is no reason to be concerned simply because exposure is measured. We know from extensive government research, along with the results of other studies that BPA is efficiently converted in the body to a biologically inactive metabolite, and that inactive metabolite is rapidly eliminated from the body in urine. BPA is not expected to accumulate in the body over time and there is limited potential for BPA to cause long-term health effects.
One recent study on workplace exposure to BPA in workers at companies that make BPA or BPA-based materials confirmed that levels of BPA found in workers were below government established occupational exposure guidance values. In addition, the study also found that more than 99% of BPA detected in urine was in the form of the biologically inactive metabolite, which confirms that the important metabolic process to rapidly eliminate BPA from the body also occurs in workers.
Most recently, researchers from the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency published the results of their large-scale study on inhalation toxicity of BPA. Even at air concentrations far above exposure limits for BPA, no BPA-related toxic effects were found in this comprehensive study. The researchers reported that the no observable adverse effect level was above the highest level tested.
Myth: Consumers should be concerned about the presence of BPA in plastic water bottles.Reality:The truth is, pretty much all plastic water (and soda) bottles are actually made from a plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET.PET is not manufactured from BPA and does not contain BPA at all. PET also doesn’t contain similar substances such as bisphenol S, which is another commonly-cited reason to not use plastic water bottles.To be sure, you can find the “resin identification code,” on the bottom of the bottle. This code is often in the form of a triangle with the number 1 inside. The number 1 indicates PET, which is usually also spelled out below the triangle.The FDA regulates all plastics present in products that contact food or beverages to help ensure they are safe for their intended use. These products include food packaging and storage containers, and PET plastic used in water bottles.The FDA regulations are strictly based on safety considerations and plastics that do not meet FDA safety requirements are not permitted in food-contact products. Similar regulatory systems exist in all major countries worldwide. So there you have it. Plastic water bottles are safe to drink from, but here’s a couple more tips you should know.Although plastic water bottles do not contain BPA, they may contain potentially harmful bacteria after they are used. Reusing plastic water bottles is okay, but make sure to use soap and hot water to clean them after use, similar to how you would clean cups and dinnerware after eating.And when you’re finished with the bottle, be sure to toss it in that blue recycle bin – and include the plastic cap. PET bottles are almost universally collected for recycling. That bottle’s got more life to live if we remember to recycle.