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Bisphenol A Research Program

Photo of water bottles

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

One reason people may be concerned about BPA is because human exposure to BPA is widespread. According to data from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 93% of Americans six years and older had detectable levels of BPA in their urine.

In 2008, NTP evaluated the available scientific literature about the possible effects of BPA on human development and reproduction. The published report concluded there is “some concern” for BPA’s effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current exposure levels. They found “minimal concern” for other health endpoints that had been studied.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one of the core agencies that supports NTP, maintains that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods. FDA also supports currently approved uses of BPA in food containers and packaging. These conclusions are based on FDA’s most recent safety assessment, and its ongoing review of scientific evidence.

Workplace exposures to BPA have also been assessed as part of a collaborative NTP effort led by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). In a 2013-2014 study that assessed 78 workers over two consecutive work days, urinary BPA concentrations in the workers were, on average, 70 times higher than in U.S. adults.  Inhalation and dermal contact were the primary routes of worker exposure, with intake estimates suggesting that inhalation was the more dominant exposure route.

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