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Deciphering the Facts About BPA

Deciphering the Facts About BPA

BPA has become a buzzword within the last few years. This chemical is not only used in a number of industries, but it’s also present in measurable levels inside almost everyone in the United States. The primary reason for the media coverage of BPA is the claim that it’s harmful to humans and what should be done about it.

What is BPA?

BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical found in numerous consumer products such as the linings of food and infant formula cans. BPA is also used to harden the plastic in drinking cups, baby bottles, and other containers. Other uses for the chemical include compact disks and thermal paper (used in lottery tickets and fax paper).

Since there’s a flurry of information surrounding BPA and possible harmful effects, we sought to clear up what’s true and which claims still need more research.

Animal Study Results Don’t Always Correlate with Humans

After reviewing and summarizing the animal studies it deemed most relevant, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences released its findings. Their evaluation of hundreds of studies revealed enough concerns about BPA in animals that the chemical could pose risks to humans as well.

However, the agency noted that the relevance of these findings to humans could not be confirmed. This is due, in part, to the fact that there were so many different studies conducted in different ways that the results could not be adequately compared.

Only a Handful of Human Studies Are Available

The NTP also examined the small number of BPA studies involving humans that were available. Because these studies were not designed similarly, had small sample sizes and other factors, NTP could not compare them directly.

Only a few of the published studies noted an association between BPA exposure (which was measured either in the urine or blood) and adverse health effects.

For example, one study noted each of the following health effects:

  • Recurrent miscarriage
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Fetal chromosomal defects

Two studies found higher levels of testosterone in both women and men.


Based on its findings, NTP determined that there was too little evidence to conclude if BPA exposure causes adverse effects on adult reproduction or on the development of children.

Reducing BPA Exposure is Becoming Easier

Even though the FDA determined that BPA is safe at the low levels that are typically present in some foods, there are things the average consumer can do to protect themselves and their families if they are concerned about the effects of BPA.

  • Since 2012, sippy cups and baby bottles manufactured in the United States must be free of BPA due to a law. Many baby bottles manufactured from 2009 until 2012 are also free of BPA, but you may want to check with the manufacturer.
  • Many of today’s reusable water bottles are also BPA-free. You can also opt for a steel or glass water bottle, which is becoming more popular.
  • Recyclable plastics labeled with the following codes: 1, 2, 4, and 6 are not likely to contain BPA. Avoid plastic containers with recycling label No. 7.

Here are a couple of other ways to Reduce BPA exposure:

  • Discard water bottles, infant feeding cups, and baby bottles if they are scratched. Small amounts of BPA could leach into the contents of the container.
  • Exercise regularly. A handful of studies including this one measured levels of BPA in blood, urine, and sweat following exercise and found that induced sweating appears to be an effective way to eliminate BPA in the body.