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Food & Health : Agri. & Environ. Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Bisphenol A may harm fetuses, infants and children
Sep 6, 2008 - 8:43:37 AM

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Credit: NTP
The National Toxicology Program has released a final report on bisphenol A or BPA, a chemical commonly used in polycarbonated plastics and epoxy resins saying that the current human exposure to this chemical is of "some concern for its effect on development of the prostate gland and brain and fetuses, infants and children.

Below is the detailed opinion of the government  agency on the toxicity of bisphenol A cited in verbatim from the National Toxicogy Program.  All opinions are of the agency.

What did the NTP conclude?

The NTP reached the following conclusions on the possible effects of current exposures to bisphenol A on human development and reproduction. Note that the possible levels of concern, from lowest to highest, are negligible concern, minimal concern, some concern, concern, and serious concern.

The NTP has some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.

The NTP has minimal concern for effects on the mammary gland and an earlier age for puberty for females in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.

The NTP has negligible concern that exposure of pregnant women to bisphenol A will result in fetal or neonatal mortality, birth defects, or reduced birth weight and growth in their offspring.

The NTP has negligible concern that exposure to bisphenol A will cause reproductive effects in non-occupationally exposed adults and minimal concern for workers exposed to higher levels in occupational settings.

Read the report: NTP-CERHR Monograph (   Download Adobe Reader (3.0MB).

What does “some concern” mean?

“Some concern” represents the mid-point of a five-level scale of concern used by the NTP. The levels from highest to lowest are:

  • Serious Concern
  • Concern
  • Some Concern
  • Minimal Concern
  • Negligible Concern

In the case of BPA, the NTP and our expert panel expressed “some concern” for potential exposures to the fetus, infants and children. There are insufficient data from studies in humans to reach a conclusion on reproductive or developmental hazards presented by current exposures to bisphenol A, but there is limited evidence of developmental changes occurring in some animal studies at doses that are experienced by humans. It is uncertain if similar changes would occur in humans, but the possibility of adverse health effects cannot be dismissed.

NTP conclusions regarding the possibilities that human development or reproduction might be adversely affected by exposure to bisphenol A. The NTP uses a five-level scale of concern.
The NTP reached the following conclusions on the possible effects of current exposures to bisphenol A on human development and reproduction. Note that the possible levels of concern, from lowest to highest, are negligible concern, minimal concern, some concern, concern, and serious concern.

The NTP and expert panel conclusions are based on the weight of scientific evidence and integrate toxicity and exposure information. Conclusions are presented in narrative form and present the best scientific judgment on the likelihood that adverse reproductive and/or developmental effects may occur under the exposure circumstances specified, i.e., a qualitative statement of potential risk. The likelihood of an adverse effect resulting from human exposure is expressed as a level of concern.

The NTP or an expert panel convened by the NTP may express "serious concern" if a substance is found to cause reproductive or developmental effects in humans or if human exposures are similar to doses that clearly cause adverse developmental or reproductive effects in laboratory animals.

At the opposite extreme, a conclusion of "negligible concern" may be warranted when the available data provide good evidence that the substance under evaluation is not a reproductive or developmental toxicant or human exposures are very low compared to dose levels that cause adverse effects in laboratory animals.

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Bisphenol A

What is bisphenol A?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

Where is BPA found?

Polycarbonate plastics have many applications including use in some food and drink packaging, e.g., water and infant bottles, compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices. Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Some dental sealants and composites may also contribute to BPA exposure.

How does BPA get into the body?

The primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet. While air, dust, and water are other possible sources of exposure, BPA in food and beverages accounts for the majority of daily human exposure.

Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles. The degree to which BPA leaches from polycarbonate bottles into liquid may depend more on the temperature of the liquid or bottle, than the age of the container. BPA can also be found in breast milk.

Why are people concerned about BPA?

One reason people may be concerned about BPA is because human exposure to BPA is widespread. The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older. The CDC NHANES data are considered representative of exposures in the United States. Another reason for concern, especially for parents, may be because some animal studies report effects in fetuses and newborns exposed to BPA.

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If I am concerned, what can I do to prevent exposure to BPA?

Some animal studies suggest that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. Parents and caregivers, can make the personal choice to reduce exposures of their infants and children to BPA:

  • Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures.
  • Polycarbonate containers that contain BPA usually have a #7 on the bottom Exit NIEHS Website (
  • Reduce your use of canned foods.
  • When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA free.

NTP and Bisphenol A

What is NTP?

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is an interagency program of the Department of Health and Human Services established in 1978. The program was created as a cooperative effort to coordinate toxicology testing programs within the federal government, strengthen the science base in toxicology, develop and validate improved testing methods, and provide information about potentially toxic chemicals to health, regulatory, and research agencies, scientific and medical communities, and the public. The NTP is headquartered at the NIEHS.

For more information about the NTP, visit the NTP Web site (

Why is BPA of interest to the NTP?

Bisphenol A was selected for evaluation by the NTP because of the following factors:

  • Widespread human exposure from use and occurrence in the environment
  • Growing public concern
  • Amount of BPA produced
  • Extensive database of animal studies on reproductive and developmental effects

What role does the NTP play in FDA safety assessments?

The FDA often uses data and information from the NTP to make safety evaluations of FDA products. Unlike the FDA, the NTP is not a regulatory body. In the case of BPA, the NTP Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction evaluated the available scientific literature on BPA to serve as an environmental health resource for the public, regulatory, health and research agencies about the potential for exposure to BPA to cause adverse reproductive or developmental effects in people.

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