BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is a building block chemical used to make a certain kind of plastic known as polycarbonate, which is found in many consumer products, and epoxy resins, which are used as protective coatings to line metal food cans.
BPA is present at very low levels in many of the popular products we use during the holiday season. Polycarbonate plastic, which is durable, clear and light weight, is used in everything from LED string lights to holiday decorations to gifts we might find under the tree—including electronics, protective eyewear, some plastic toys and sporting equipment. And, epoxy resins are used to keep holiday canned food favorites—from pumpkin pie filling to cranberry sauce—fresh and free from bacterial contamination.
As you begin preparing for holiday festivities and use products made with BPA, take a look at these five scientific facts about this common chemical:
- BPA is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals used today. BPA has been safely used in food packaging materials and in other commercial applications for over fifty years. Because it is so widely used, BPA has also been studied extensively. Polycarbonate and epoxy resins made with BPA have been thoroughly tested and deemed safe for use in food and beverage containers by regulatory authorities around the world.
- Normal, everyday exposure to BPA is low. The amount of BPA we are exposed to through our normal daily diet is well below the safe intake limit set by U.S. government agencies—about 1,000 times below this safe limit. To exceed this safe intake limit, someone would have to ingest about 1,300 pounds of food that comes into contact with BPA each and every day. Our bodies quickly metabolize the small amount of BPA we do ingest, preventing any accumulation or build-up in our bodies. Research on human volunteers shows that any BPA we are exposed to through our diets is eliminated from our bodies within 24 hours, even when the volunteers were exposed to much higher amounts of BPA than normal.
- BPA does not pose a health risk. Scientists all over the world have researched BPA and its potential health effects on humans, and these studies provide a vast body of evidence demonstrating that BPA is safe for use. A study by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) demonstrated that there are no risks of health effects from BPA at the levels consumers are typically exposed to.
- U. S. regulatory authorities agree: BPA is safe.In the last several years, federal government scientists have been conducting in-depth studies to answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about the safety of BPA. Most recently, the FDA released the CLARITY Core Study, the largest study ever conducted on BPA. Once again, it reaffirmed that BPA is unlikely to cause health effects at the very low levels to which people are exposed. Stephen Ostroff M.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the FDA said of CLARITY that, “The report also builds upon the already extensive data collected in the FDA’s 2014 assessment of the safety of BPA.” Based on the results of this research as well as other studies, the FDA answered the question “Is BPA safe?” with a clear answer – “Yes.” Leading international food safety agencies, including the European Food Safety Authority, Health Canada, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and many more agree: BPA is safe at the very low levels consumers would be exposed to.
- BPA plays an important role in today’s consumer products. Because of the unique attributes of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastic—strength, durability, transparency, lightweight, shatter-resistance—BPA plays an important role in a wide array of consumer and industrial products, providing consistent performance in tough settings. Parts for automobiles, building materials, safety equipment, medical supplies, and many other products depend on high-performance materials made from BPA. BPA helps ensure that consumers can safely use everyday products and rely on their consistent performance. When used in the linings of cans, BPA helps ensure food safety and food quality by protecting food from contaminants, keeping it fresh and preventing spoilage, which could lead to contamination from deadly pathogens such as botulism.