Scientists Report More Concerns Over Use of BPA

You may want to check out what materials your water bottle is made out of before taking your next big swig. Research indicates that using hard plastic water bottles made with bisphenol A (or BPA) may lead to reproductive and cardiovascular problems. BPA is also a common material found in other plastic food containers, baby bottles, and toddler sippy cups.

Research conducted by scientists at the University of Illinois using mice as a test subject indicates that low doses of BPA slow growth and impair the proper functioning of adult reproductive cells. Scientific studies have shown that the chemical structure of BPA is similar to estradiol, a sex hormone. Its similar structure means that BPA can bind to estrogen receptors on the surface of some cells. More research is required to determine what impact this binding of BPA has; that is, whether it impairs, mimics, or increases the activity of estrogen on these cells.

Another study, conducted by scientists at the Yale School of Medicine, showed that when female mice were given BPA in the middle of their pregnancies, their female offspring showed an irreversible change in HOXA10, a “master regulatory gene” involved in fertility. A third study, conducted by scientists at the University of Cincinnati, indicated that the presence of BPA increased irregularities in heartbeat (arrhythmia) in muscle cells isolated from mice and rats.

Human studies involving BPA indicate that the chemical is present in urine, blood, breast milk, and the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. In addition, a study of over 2500 people aged six and older, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that 93 percent of those tested had BPA in their system. Typically, BPA is eliminated fairly quickly from the human body, though not as fast as once thought. Scientists initially thought that BPA was eliminated from the body within 12 to 18 hours after being ingested. However, results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that the amount of BPA in the body was the same 12 to 20 hours after a meal as it was only five hours after a meal.

Though many retailers and manufacturers have voluntarily phased out the use of BPA in products such as baby bottles, water bottles, and sippy cups, controversy remains as to how dangerous (if it all) using such containers is for human health. Plastic manufacturers argue that the amounts of BPA present in human systems are well below levels that could cause harm to one’s health. However, scientists are concerned about the accumulation of BPA in the human system, given that a number of products contain BPA. In addition, animal studies have shown that fetal exposure to BPA can lead to brain, behavioral, and reproductive health issues. Given these results, many city and state governments have proposed banning the use of BPA in products marketed specifically for the use of infants and children.

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