Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a toxin used in the production of a variety of products, including certain paper products, plastic food packaging, plastic bottles, and the in the linings of canned goods. It’s on dollar bills and in the water we drink. Because of this, it is also found in our bodies, but it isn’t from exposure to these products directly. New research from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) affirms what many experts have already been saying—that the majority of the BPA found within us is coming from the foods we eat.
It’s the first in-depth analysis on BPA by the EFSA since 2006 and the first to look at both food and non-food sources of BPA exposure. The agency says, surprisingly, that it’s research has also shown that BPA exposure is less prevalent than previously thought. They are currently seeking feedback on their findings and will issue a second part to their research to be specifically focused on the human health risks of BPA.
The EFSA’s research applied two approaches: exposure modeling and urine analysis. Researchers assessed exposure to known sources of BPA including air, dust, food, toys, dental sealants, and thermal paper. Then, they analyzed the presence of BPA in study subjects’ urine samples.
“Exposure modelling involves the assessment of exposure to BPA through food and non-food sources (thermal paper, air, dust, toys, cosmetics, dental sealants) and routes (diet, inhalation and skin contact) in the EU population. This method allows for the estimation of exposure from all sources which could be identified and quantified individually.
Urinary biomonitoring data (that is, levels of BPA found in the urine) were used to corroborate the Panel’s estimates of overall BPA exposure and to ensure no major source of exposure was missed.”
Some of the surprising findings from their research:
- For infants up to 3 months, dietary exposure is estimated to be some 30 times lower than previously stated (135 ng/kg bw/day in 2013 compared to 4,000 ng/kg bw/day in 2006).
- For adults, including women of child-bearing age, estimate for 2013 is about 11x lower than in 2006 (up to 132 ng/kg bw/day in 2013 compared to 1,500 ng/kg bw/day in 2006).
It could be that the research techniques have improved and we are getting a more accurate picture of BPA exposure now, or the research is flawed. Finally, the decrease could be explained by a growing awareness on the part of the public and manufacturers on the dangers of BPA. The second part of the research may provide greater insight into the changes.
BPA is a hormone-mimicking toxin that has been linked to increased breast cancer risk, increased incidence of obesity, accelerated maturation of girls, increased risk of diabetes, and fertility problems. A few years ago Canada became the first to ban BPA outright. Here in the U.S., the FDA recently moved to ban the substance in baby formula packaging.