As you shop for holiday gifts and hang festive décor, you may not know about an important chemical that is ensuring you have a happy and healthy holiday season. BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is present at very low levels in many of the popular products we use during the holiday season. It is a building block chemical used to make a plastic known as polycarbonate, which is found in many consumer products, as well as epoxy resins, which are used as protective coatings to line metal food cans.
Polycarbonate plastic is durable, clear and light weight -- ideal qualities for 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. Meanwhile, 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 using such products to prepare for the holiday season, take a look at these five scientific facts about this common chemical:
1. 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.
2. 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 shows that any BPA we are exposed to through our diets is eliminated from our bodies within 24 hours, even when we exposed to much higher amounts of BPA than normal.
3. 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.
4. 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 any lingering 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 are exposed to.
5. 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. BPA helps ensure that consumers can safely use holiday products, such as lights and other decorations, and it keeps holiday foods fresh and safe from spoilage.
With these facts in mind, enjoy your holiday season knowing that there is no need to worry when it comes to your limited exposure to BPA.