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Are BPA Substitutes Any Safer Than BPA?

Published September 11, 2017.

Bisphenol A, known as “BPA” is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. In recent years, science has shown that exposure to BPA can result in possible human health effects, including reproductive endocrine disorders and neurobehavioral problems. EPA scientists have been conducting research to better understand the health effects from exposure to BPA. In the meantime, many manufacturers have started to use other chemicals as substitutes for BPA. Products containing these substitutes are sometimes marketed as “BPA-Free.” But what is known about the toxicity of these substitutes? An EPA scientist, Chris Corton along with researchers at King’s College London, set out to determine whether six bisphenol A (BPA) alternatives found in the marketplace are any safer than BPA itself. The results of their research were published in Toxicological Sciences June 7, 2017.

The researchers specifically tested the impact of these chemicals on estrogen receptor activity, which if altered could affect the body’s endocrine systems, with potentially serious consequences for fetuses, infants and young children. The team showed that some of the BPA alternatives were actually more potent than BPA itself in activating the estrogen receptor. These findings highlight the need for testing of replacement chemicals prior to their introduction into commerce to demonstrate that they are safer than the chemical being replaced. The article was selected by the Editor of Toxicological Sciences in his monthly highlights.

This is part of EPA's larger effort to understand the toxicity of thousands of chemicals that are currently used in consumer products nationwide.

Learn more:
Editor’s Highlight: Transcriptome Profiling Reveals Bisphenol A Alternatives Activate Estrogen Receptor Alpha in Human Breast Cancer Cells Exit