Subscribe to our RSS Feed
"An adequate margin of safety exists for BPA at current levels of exposure from food contact uses, for infants and adults"
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), January 2010
"Levels of BPA in the human body are very low, indicating that BPA is not accumulated in the body and is rapidly eliminated."
World Health Organization (WHO), November 2010
"Receipts containing BPA do not pose a risk to consumers or cashiers"
Danish EPA, June 2011
"The current Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) level for BPA is adequately justified."
German Society for Toxicology, April 2011
"Receipts containing BPA do not pose a risk to consumers or cashiers"
Danish EPA, June 2011
"[…] the scientific evidence at this time does not suggest that the very low levels of human exposure to BPA through the diet are unsafe."
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), March 2012
"Levels of BPA in the human body are very low, indicating that BPA is not accumulated in the body and is rapidly eliminated."
World Health Organization (WHO), November 2010
"[…] the scientific evidence at this time does not suggest that the very low levels of human exposure to BPA through the diet are unsafe."
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), March 2012

Myths on Bisphenol-A (BPA)

The complexity and technical nature of chemicals make it easy for misinformation to arise and spread. Misinformation about bisphenol A (BPA) can be easily perpetuated because emotional arguments are often more easy to comprehend and transmit than factual statements based on science.

The following page seeks to present some of the common misconceptions and provide the actual facts based on science to increase understanding of BPA.

 

Myth: "Bisphenol A causes women to miscarry"

Fact:

There is no research that shows women’s exposure to BPA causes miscarriage.  A recent flurry of media stories has significantly exaggerated the findings of one small-scale study of 114 women that reported a limited “statistical association” between BPA and risk of miscarriage.  The study cannot establish – and does not report – any cause-and-effect finding between BPA and miscarriage.

The particular study by Dr. Ruth Lathi of Stanford University has not been peer-reviewed or published in the scientific literature and has only been presented at a conference – meaning that other scientists cannot fully review the data. This small-scale study has not been replicated with other studies and comprehensive multi-generation studies on laboratory animals have found that BPA has no effect on reproduction at any dose remotely close typical human exposure levels. 

Myth: "BPA accumulates in the human body"

Fact:

Several studies on human volunteers have shown that the very small amount of BPA that may be ingested by a person during normal daily activities is efficiently converted to biologically inactive metabolites, which are eliminated from the human body within 24 hours. In contrast, similar studies on rodents, which are commonly used for toxicity studies, have demonstrated that rodents are less efficient at eliminating BPA from the body.

Myth: "BPA exposure from cash receipts can pose health risks"

Fact:

Cash receipts made from thermal paper can contain low levels of bisphenol A (BPA). However, available data suggests that BPA is not readily absorbed through the skin. Biomonitoring data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that consumer exposure to BPA, which would include exposure from receipts, is extremely low. Typical exposure in the general U.S. population - from all sources - is about 1,000 times below safe intake levels set by government bodies in Europe and the U.S. In fact, a recent study looking into this very concern, ‘Transfer of bisphenol A from thermal printer paper to the skin,' (Biedermann, Tschudin & Grob, 2010) shows that while low levels of BPA can transfer from thermal paper to skin, those levels are well below government-set safe intake levels, even under the worst-case conditions included in the study. Another recent study, ‘Viable skin efficiently absorbs and metabolizes bisphenol A,' (Zalko, D., et al., 2010) showed that BPA is effectively converted as it penetrates through the skin to a biologically inactive metabolite, which is then quickly eliminated from the body. More information on thermal paper is available at Thermal Paper Facts.

Myth: "Basically, any alternative is better than Bisphenol A- based material in food contact"

Fact:

This suggestion, which is sometimes referenced in poorly researched media articles, is a very dangerous one. It wrongly indicates that there are equally well-suited, well-tested, well-understood and technically viable alternatives to just replace one material with another. This is not the case. Extensive toxicological safety studies have to be done, independent authorities have to assess, producers and food companies have to test the behaviour of the material in their processes, in the packaging, over a realistic period of product life, and under varying use scenarios. As the Swiss Health authority stated: "A ban on BPA would inevitably cause manufactures of packaging and consumer products (food contact materials) to have to switch to other substances, the toxicity of which is less well known. This would mean a well characterized risk would be replaced with a conspicuously unpredictable risk.

Myth: "Hundreds of studies prove that BPA is harmful – but they are ignored"

Fact:

It is not the quantity, but the quality and validity of scientific studies that is of importance for regulatory safety assessments. The European authorities in their risk assessment of BPA, included more than 1000 studies. EFSA in its 2010 safety assessment of BPA-based food contact included more than 800 studies which had appeared since their last assessment in 2008. This clearly includes all the small or exploratory studies many of which claim to see a negative effect. The authorities noted several methodological, statistical or other shortcomings in these studies and their results could not be reproduced and are thus not validated.

Myth: "Polycarbonate debris decomposes in the sea"

Fact:

Polycarbonate is not used as a one-way packaging material. In fact, polycarbonate products are largely reused and recycled. For example, large 5 gallon water containers are made from polycarbonate. These water bottles are typically refilled up to 100 times before being mechanically recycled. Polycarbonate is therefore not a material that would, under normal use and applying responsible waste recovery schemes, end up as debris in the sea. In fact, the efficient nature of polycarbonate in many cases helps preserve our resources. Polycarbonate is the material used to make CDs and DVDs, two products that have revolutionaised data storage and enabled enormous improvements in resource efficiency as a result.

Myth: "Certain countries have banned BPA"

Fact:

As a substance Bisphenol A is not banned anywhere in the world. In fact, extensive scientific testing and governmental reviews worldwide have concluded that human exposure to BPA is very low and within the safe limits set by government authorities. Therefore, there is no regulatory - or science-based reason to stop using a safe product that provides significant benefits to the consumer. However, as a reaction to some scientific questions continuously being discussed, and in applying a very broad interpretation of the precautionary principle, the European Commission, at the end of November 2010, decided to restrict the use of BPA in one application: from 1.3.2011 the production, and from 1.6.2011 the sale of BPA-based polycarbonate baby bottles will not longer be permitted in Europe. Denmark and France had already taken this decision mid of 2010, and Canada decided to restrict the use of BPA-based material in food contact products for small children (ages 0-3). In March 2010, comparable decisions have been taken in some states, counties or cities in the US. These decisions are driven by reasons other than sound science. They follow the intention to reduce as much as possible the BPA-exposure of babies and small children. However, not a single of the large number of national and regional authorities around the world - including the ones in Denmark and France - identified a health risk for adults, children or newborns from the very low levels of BPA they might be exposed to through contact with the respective food contact products.

Myth: "The US FDA has changed its opinion on BPA"

Fact:

Both in its previous assessment as well as in its recent opinion of January 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that there is no evidence of harm to children or adults from the current levels of BPA-exposure. Nevertheless, in their recent statement the FDA also gave guidance to parents on how to minimise infant exposure to BPA if they wish to do so. As a reaction to the European Union's decision to restrict BPA-based polycarbonate baby bottles, the FDA, in December 2010, decided not to change its present recommendations. The agency is issuing no further recommendations at this time. The FDA has implemented a BPA-focused research programme, the results of which will become available during the coming years. The FDA will continue its BPA research programme.

Myth: "The precautionary principle must be applied to any presumed risk"

Fact:

The idea of the precautionary principle is to have a concept to regulate a substance if there is no, or not sufficient scientific data available to properly assess a risk, or if the uncertainty in its assessment is regarded as too big. However, for BPA a large amount of scientific data is available. The regulatory experts have a comprehensive understanding of the substance, and the risk assessments are based on a large data base. Therefore the risk associated with BPA has been extensively and thoroughly assessed.

Myth: "Bisphenol A is harmful to humans at low doses"

Fact:

Studies supporting the low dose theory have repeatedly been judged by independent regulators as unreliable for use in human risk assessment. None of the studies claiming such effects could be reproduced by other scientist teams. Several comprehensive studies that also investigated the question of potential effects of very small levels of BPA on the metabolism and looked at several generations, did not find any such effect. However, numerous studies show that the level of migration, if any, is far below any safety-based standards set by government bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and such exposure poses no known health risk. The low dose theory has repeatedly been judged by independent regulators as both unreliable and unconvincing.

Myth: "Bisphenol A is used as a plasticiser in plastics"

Fact:

Bisphenol A (BPA) is not used as a plasticiser in plastics; it is an intermediate used in the manufacture of either polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins. More than 99% of BPA is converted into polymers such as polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Only a very small amount of all the BPA that is produced is used as an essential antioxidant in soft PVC plastics or as a developing agent for thermal paper.

Myth: "Bisphenol A is an endocrine or hormone disruptor"

Fact:

Bisphenol A (BPA) does not fulfil the scientific definition of an endocrine disruptor. BPA was not specifically synthesised to be used as a hormone, but was screened together with many other substances in the 1930s and failed to show relevant potency. Like many naturally-occurring products and everyday foodstuffs such as carrots, soy beans or other vegetables, BPA shows very weak, estrogen-like effects, and only at extremely high levels. Such levels can realistically never be reached in daily life. Read more about this topic.

Myth: "Polycarbonate plastic food containers or epoxy coated cans leach high levels of bisphenol A into your food"

Fact:

Bisphenol A (BPA) does not migrate into food like powder off a surface, as some suggest. In fact, during the production of polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins, the BPA molecules are firmly bound to one another and are incorporated into the polymeric structure of the plastic itself. Like with any other material, there is some potential for extremely small amounts of BPA to migrate. However, numerous studies show that the level of migration is far below any safety-based standards set by government bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and such exposure poses no known health risk. In fact, as stated by EFSA, "after exposure to BPA the human body rapidly metabolises and eliminates the substance." EFSA explicitly considered newborns and small children in their assessment.

Myth: "Bisphenol A causes cancer"

Fact:

There is no scientific evidence that proves that bisphenol A (BPA) causes cancer, nor that it poses any risk to human health, at realistic levels of exposure. Claims that BPA is linked to cancer, birth defects, genetic effects, or infertility are not supported by robust research studies that have investigated this question. The results of related exploratory studies could not be reproduced by other scientific teams and they do not give a consistent picture. Governmental assessments have confirmed that human exposure to BPA is extremely low. When exposed through diet, humans rapidly metabolise and eliminate BPA (within 24 hours). After assessing over 1,000 studies on BPA, the recent EU Risk Assessment Report reconfirmed its conclusion that BPA does not cause cancer at realistic, very low exposure levels.More information

Myth: "Bisphenol A is used as an additive in plastics"

Fact:

Bisphenol A (BPA) is not added to polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins, but is the intermediate which, through polymerisation, becomes these materials. More than 99% of BPA is converted into polymers such as polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Only a very small amount of all BPA produced is used as an essential antioxidant in soft PVC plastics. Without BPA, one would not be able to produce polycarbonate or epoxy resin.

Myth: "Bisphenol A should be banned"

Fact:

There is no scientific justification for banning bisphenol A (BPA), as numerous studies and regulatory assessments have shown that BPA and BPA-based products pose no risk to human health or the environment. Moreover, banning would unnecessarily remove thousands of crucial everyday products from our lives - from CDs and unbreakable eyeglasses to car bumpers and hospital respirators - and have a severe social and economic impact. Read more about BPA applications in our everyday lives.

Myth: "Bisphenol A leads to obesity in children"

Fact:

There is no proven link between bisphenol A (BPA) and childhood obesity. Body weight is a regularly measured parameter in each toxicological study. None of the studies conducted according to internationally accepted quality guidelines showed effects on body weight at dose levels relevant to consumers. Media reports that obesity might be an effect of BPA exposure are based on a small number of studies with a number of limitations (e.g., small samples, limited number of dose levels, using an inappropriate route of exposure). Recent scientific reviews by authorities such as European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Center for Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), Health Canada and other scientific bodies were consistent in the conclusion that there is no evidence that BPA exposure causes obesity.

Myth: "There is a wealth of studies that proves bisphenol A is dangerous"

Fact:

Independent regulators across the world have consistently concluded that bisphenol A (BPA) is safe by looking at the whole set of available science on BPA. There are key criteria on study quality related to methodology, analysis, evaluation or reproducibility that are used when forming decisions by regulators. Authorities must always base their decisions on validated studies with assured quality Read more about the European authorities' safety assessments.

Myth: "Bisphenol A causes birth defects, genetic effects, and infertility"

Fact:

There is no scientific evidence that proves that bisphenol A (BPA)causes birth defects, genetic effects, and infertility or indeed that it poses any risk to consumers at realistic levels of exposure. Such claims are not supported by any validated scientific research. There are numerous assessments by authorities around the world that confirm that human exposure to BPA is very low, and that humans will rapidly metabolise and excrete BPA.

Myth: "Human blood presents “high” traces of BPA"

Fact:

Recent studies claim to have found high concentrations of BPA in human blood. However, these concentrations are vastly overestimated; the experiments conducted actually have serious limitations leading to unintended contamination of the blood samples analysed.  Other studies, where unintended contamination with BPA during sample collection was carefully controlled, show that internal exposures to BPA in humans are at least 1000 fold lower, below nanograms per liter, and are far below biologically active concentrations (read more here).