The Daily Telegraph reports on a new study in the UK which found more than 80 per cent of teenagers have traces of the chemical compound BPA, which is linked to reduced fertility in men, in their bodies.
The study involved 94 young people aged between 17 and 19. Participants in the study tried to limit their contact with the chemical for a week through avoiding plastic packaging which contains BPA, switching to stainless steel and glass food and drink storage containers, and avoiding tinned food.
The chemical has a relatively short half-life of six hours and passes out of the body quickly, but 86 per cent of students had traces in their bodies, with an average level of 1.9ng/ml, similar to levels recorded in other countries around the world.
The study authors “found no evidence that it was possible to moderate BPA exposure by diet in a real-world setting. Furthermore, our study participants indicated that they would be unlikely to sustain such a diet long term, due to the difficulty in identifying BPA-free foods.”
Tamara Galloway, Professor of Ecotoxicology at the University of Exeter, said: “There is growing evidence that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be associated with adverse health outcomes. Measurable levels of BPA were present in the vast majority of our participants.”
Lorna Harries, associate professor in molecular genetics at the University of Exeter, added: “In an ideal world, we would have a choice over what we put into our bodies. At the present time, since it is difficult to identify which foods and packaging contain BPA, it is not possible to make that choice.”
The British Plastics Federation has previously called negative stories about BPA a “witch hunt” and said campaigns against the chemical are misleading. “The use of BPA-based consumer products does not involve a risk to humans,” declared the Federation press release.
BPA is a chemical that has been used to harden plastics for more than 40 years. It’s everywhere. It’s in medical devices, compact discs, dental sealants, water bottles, the lining of canned foods and drinks, and many other products. It was first created in 1891 by a Russian chemist. By the 1930s, it was found to mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body.
BPA is also found in thermal printer receipts and paper currency. Research has shown that holding receipt paper for only five seconds was enough to transfer BPA onto your skin, and the amount of BPA transferred increased by about 10 times if fingers were wet or greasy.
Based on evidence from animal studies the FDA has expressed concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children. Some animal studies have shown a possible link between BPA exposure and a later increased risk of cancer.
According to Patricia Hunt, a geneticist at Washington State University, “exposure to low levels of BPA — levels that we think are in the realm of current human exposure — can profoundly affect both developing eggs and sperm.”
The European Union, the US and Canada have banned BPA use in baby bottles. Last June the European chemicals agency ruled BPA poses a threat to human health because of its effects on hormones.