BPA: What You Need to Know

Plastic pollution is a problem, and BPA plays a large role.

BPA - a common chemical in durable plastics - is detrimental to our health and remains in widespread use.


We can all take steps to prevent usage of BPA plastics. Use our easy guide.

Why are people concerned about BPA?

BPA in families

BPA is concerning to many because of the health effects and because human exposure to BPA is so widespread.

BPA is an endocrine (hormone) disruptor. It can imitate the body's natural hormones and interfere with their function. BPA mimics the structure and function of the hormone estrogen. Due to its estrogen-like shape, BPA can bind to estrogen receptors and influence normal bodily processes. These include growth, cell repair, fetal development, and reproduction.

Studies have shown that infants born to mothers exposed to BPA weigh up to half a pound less, on average, than infants born to unexposed mothers. BPA exposure during early life may also influence hormonal development and behavior in children.

BPA exposure has been shown to cause:

  • Impaired brain development
  • ADHD and anxiety-related disorders
  • Childhood weight gain and obesity.

Pregnant women, infants and young children face the greatest risk.

What is Bisphenol-A? Where is it found?

BPA in food products

BPA is a chemical that serves as a key ingredient in polycarbonate plastic, making the plastic much more durable and strong.

It was first discovered in 1891 by a Russian chemist but not widely used until the 1950s, when chemists realized it could be mixed with other compounds to produce strong and resilient plastics. In 2015, an estimated four million tons of BPA-derived chemicals were produced, making it one of the highest produced chemicals worldwide.

Today, BPA plastic is commonly made into a variety of popular consumer items such as:

  • Reusable water bottles
  • Plastic food containers
  • Baby bottles
  • Sports equipment.

BPA is also used to create epoxy resins, used to line the inside canned food containers to prevent the metal from corroding. And that grittiness you feel when you rub a thermal paper sales receipt between your fingers? That's BPA.

How does BPA enter the body?

BPA-free food storage

The main source of BPA exposure is diet, particularly packaged and canned foods.

BPA containers can leach the chemical into your food or beverage, seeping into the container's contents before you ingest them. The degree to which BPA seeps into your food may depend more on the temperature of the container than the age - heat can break the containers down over time, allowing the chemical to be more easily released.

How You Can Act

BPA in food

BPA-free alternatives

On a personal level, you can protect yourself and your family in several simple ways.

  1. Avoid thermal paper receipts
  2. Turn to glass, porcelain, or stainless steel food storage containers and reduce use of plastic. Choose wax paper over plastic wrap. There is no such thing as microwave- or dishwasher-safe plastic: Repeated studies show heat leaches BPA from plastic.
  3. Seek out BPA-free cans, or adjust your diet to include more fresh foods.
  4. Subscribe to one of our newsletters to stay informed on the most up-to-date research and news. Subscribe here.

On a national level, take the time to reach out to government representatives to act for those that cannot and future generations.

Ask these questions...

  1. Why, if the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles in 2012, does the chemical remain in so many products today?
  2. Why are we not properly testing BPA and other chemicals that interfere with our hormones?
  3. Why allow the blood of most Americans to be tainted with chemicals tied to birth defects, obesity, diabetes, and reproductive problems?

... to these people:

  1. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. and chair, House Committee on Energy & Commerce, frank.pallone@mail.house.gov
  2. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. And chair, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
  3. Dr. Brett P. Giroir, acting commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, CommissionerFDA@fda.hhs.gov
  4. Your representative in Congress

Want to learn more about BPA?

Effects of BPA on children

EHN.org's year-long investigation into federal regulation of bisphenol-A exposure found a willful blindness to contemporary science.

This ignored science shows grave concern for our health and reproductive systems at exposures we likely all face.

It's time now to take steps to change this.

Read the full investigation here: www.ehn.org/exposed

Check out our continuing coverage of BPA news here: https://www.ehn.org/bpa/

Sign up for our FREE daily newsletter featuring the most consequential news on our environment and health, hand-selected by our editors – Above the Fold.

Print Friendly and PDF
SUBSCRIBE TO EHN'S MUST-READ DAILY NEWSLETTER: ABOVE THE FOLD
From our Newsroom

Cutting forests and disturbing natural habitats increases our risk of wildlife diseases

A new study found that animals known to carry harmful diseases such as the novel coronavirus are more common in landscapes intensively used by people.

Prepare for a November surprise

Don't believe the polls; it'll be a race, by hook or by crook.

WATCH: Agents of Change discuss writing, research, and activism

"At the end of the day it's about holding a love for the people you work with, holding your sacred ground—this is my truth."

Diversity and community focus: The future of science communication

How EHN's Agents of Change series highlighted the inequities—and opportunities—in environmental health.

Cutting edge of science

An exclusive look at important research just over the horizon that promises to impact our health and the environment

Above The Fold

Daily & Weekly newsletters all free.