Also known as: BPA

Chemical formula: C15H16O2

Purpose/ Definition

A chemical building block used primarily to make polycarbonate (PC) plastic and epoxy resins.

Health Effects

Health impacts linked to low-level exposure to BPA (in either animals or humans) include:


•Low sperm count

•Damage to developing eggs


•Placental cell death


•Heart disease


•Changes in brain development

•Predisposition to breast and prostate cancer

Source: National Workgroup for Safe Markets, No Silver Lining, An Investigation into Bisphenol A in Canned Foods, May 2010


EPA estimates that humans are exposed to the chemical primarily through food packaging, such as reusable polycarbonate water bottles and baby bottles and the epoxy resins lining metal food and beverage cans.

Polycarbonate is a hard plastic, identified by recycling code 7. Containers marked with “PC” under or within the symbol contain BPA. But containers bearing the image with the word “other” or no text may or may not contain BPA.

People are also exposed by handling thermal receipt paper, which can contain BPA.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found detectable levels of BPA in the urine of 93% of Americans over the age of six.


BPA was first synthesized in the 1891. It was identified as a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. Industry began using BPA to make plastics and epoxy resins in the 1940s. In 1963, the Food and Drug Administration categorized BPA as “Generally Regarded as Safe,” allowing its use in food containers such as baby bottles and food cans. In 1976 BPA was “grandfathered in” to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

In 2002, approximately 2.8 million tons of BPA were produced globally (Chemical Market Associates, Inc. (CMAI)).

The European Union and Canada have banned the use of BPA in baby bottles. Minnesota became the first state to ban BPA from plastic baby bottles and sippy cups (beginning in 2011). Connecticut, Chicago, Suffolk County, NY, and other areas have imposed similar prohibitions. In March 2010, the EPA issued a “chemical action plan” for BPA, saying it would look to add the substance to its list of “chemicals of concern” and require testing on BPA’s environmental effects.

LMG Article of Interest

BPA: Uncontained Danger, Fall 2010

Tips to Avoid Exposures to Four Environment-Related Childhood Diseases, Fall 2010

Non-Toxic Nursery, Fall 2009

SIGG Reveals Bottles Did Contain BPA, Fall 2009

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