Worried About BPA? You Should Be

A new study reveals that even low doses of endocrine disruptive chemicals are dangerous to your health.
Even in low doses, BPA can cause health problems. And it's not only food containers you need to be worried about. (Photo: Truitt Rogers/Getty Images)
Mar 27, 2012· 1 MIN READ
Nichol Nelson hails from Minnesota, but has worked in food journalism in New York and Los Angeles for more than a decade. She served as an editor with Gourmet magazine for six years, and has contributed to several other digital and print food publications.

Been following the brouhaha over bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging? Well, the news just got worse. A new study published in the journal Endocrine Reviews found that even low doses of BPA and other endocrine disruptive chemicals known as EDCs are far more dangerous than previously thought.

What are EDCs? Basically, they’re chemical substances that interfere with hormones in the human body. Worse, they’re found in a stunning array of everyday products. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that they’re linked to infertility, immune-system problems, cancers, and even obesity.

Think you’re immune? Think again. EDCs are used in everything from makeup to couch upholstery. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that BPA is in the urine of 93 percent of all Americans.

“This is the biggest and broadest review of this work that’s been done to date,” Laura Vandenberg, lead author of the paper and a post-doctoral fellow at the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, told Grist.

BPA was integrated into plastics 70 years ago, and has been present in household products and food packaging ever since.

“At high doses [like in industrial accidents], endocrine-disrupting chemicals can kill people, cause birth defects and severe malformations of fetuses,” says Vandenberg. “These studies overwhelmingly show that EDCs have actions at low doses, too. They’re not killing people, but instead they are changing the development of organs that can have permanent effects.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, The American Chemistry Council isn’t thrilled with the new study, and refutes its validity. “[R]egulatory agencies around the world, which review extensive scientific data, have not confirmed the validity of low-dose effects or their relevance to human health,” ACC spokesperson Kathryn St. John told Grist via email.

Change is coming, but it’s been slow going. Under increasing consumer pressure, several state have banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, and the FDA is expected to weigh in on the issue of BPA in food by March 31.