Bispenol-A (BPA) is a very essential chemical compound used in the manufacture of a variety of plastic-based materials. For instance, the manufacture of epoxy resins as well as the polycarbonate plastics heavily relies on the availability of bisphenol A (Chenier, 2002). The plastics are thereafter used to make containers for packing and storing food and drinks. Other plastics made from bisphenol A have also been used to synthesize plastic pipes. On the other hand, metal products have been coated for long using resin, a vital component of bisphenol A. In addition, dental treatment has equally made use of certain polymers manufactured from bisphenol A. The figure below shows the structural formula of BPA.
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There has been long-term concern over the exposure to bisphenol A due uncertainty of its toxicology. A study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Survey in 2003 and 2004 revealed that there were detectable levels of bisphenol A in more than 90 percent of the 2517 participants who took part in the survey (Biedermann-Brem and Grob, 2009). In the research study, the urine samples for the respondents aged six years and above were tested. The data obtained from CDC has been perceived to be representative of the contact level of the chemical in United States and hence the worry. Besides, there has been growing worry on the effect of bisphenol A especially on infants when fed using plastic milk bottles manufactured from bisphenol-A.
The amount of bisphenol A that is released from baby feeding bottles made from polycarbonate plastic has been an issue of concern and consequently a matter of debate. Two major considerations come into play here namely the exposure level as well as the general safety (Nielsen, 2010). Although there is some uncertainty in the toxic level of the chemical as noted in the report by NTP, other concerned parties like the Canadian authority have proposed a total ban on the regular application of baby bottles made from polycarbonate plastics. On the other hand, the European Food Safety Authority has reiterated that the debate surrounding the ban of bisphenol A and its related products is not necessary since there is a daily intake of the chemical that can be tolerated by those exposed to it especially when the amount taken or exposed to is considered alongside the bodyweight of the individual. Similarly, the US Food and Drug Administration concludes more or less the same way.
The most potent source of bisphenol A is polycarbonate baby bottles. This is owing to the fact that their body weight is relatively small compared to their exposure level to BPA (Chenier, 2002). Most research studies have concluded that the conjugation of bisphenol A in the glucuronide among babies is quite slow than among grownups. As a result, bisphenol A and the associated quantity of plasma are found to be much higher in the active form. Consequently, the sensitive stage of development in an organism is greatly affected by high exposure levels of bisphenol A.
One side of the debate on the safe use of bisphenol A has it that exposure to the chemical compound especially at the workplace has been found to be relatively insignificant and is in accordance with safety standards and levels proposed by most government agencies globally (Nielsen, 2010). Besides, consumer products that make use of bisphenol A have been found to comply with regulatory standards and there should be no need to worry about the possible harmful effects of BPA.
moreover, the four-step procedure put forward by the US academy of sciences concludes that exposure to bisphenol and its related products such as epoxy resin has no well-known and documented potential harm to human health(Nielsen, 2010). According to the assessment done by this academy, bisphenol A has no negative effect on reproduction since it is not carcinogenic. The report further specifies that the dietary intake of BPA on a daily basis is often below 0.00011 mg in every kilogram of body weight.
There have been differing opinions on the effect of BPA on baby bottles. A study by Biedermann-Brem and Grob (2009) concludes that baby bottles are a potential source of bisphenol A and can potentially harm the development stage. However, quite a number of experiments carried out by government agencies in the UK, Canada and the United States that focused on the impact of BPA on baby bottles differed exponentially with the proposition that BPA can endanger the developmental stages of tender tissues. In each of the studies conducted by government agencies, laboratory conditions were well characterized and standardized. According to most of the studies, the transfer of bisphenol A from baby bottles that were still new was found to be below 5 parts per billion (Biedermann-Brem & Grob, 2009).
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Another research study on baby bottles conducted by the Japanese National Institute of Health revealed similar results; the migration of the substance from the new baby bottle was below one part per billion. The only precaution that should be taken when using baby bottles is thorough washing before and after use so as to reduce the amount of BPA transferred. Nonetheless, an experimental study carried out by Biedermann-Brem and Grob (2009) completely differs from similar reports compiled by government agencies. In this study, polycarbonate baby bottles were used in the experiment. The bottles were obtained from different manufacturers. 200 ml of water was added to each of the bottles and then heated using a microwave up to some desired temperature. The heating power was then minimized as boiling was taking place. The analysis of BPA was then carried out using 70 percent of methanol.
From the results of this study, it was found that when the analysis of bisphenol A was carried out using soft water that had been de-ionized, there were no detectable levels of BPA (Nielsen, 2010). However, using tap water revealed completely different results. There is an evident transfer of BPA that could be detected in the analysis.
To recap, the use of bisphenol A in consumer products should not necessarily be banned. Judging from both arguments, it is definite that the overall migration level of bisphenol A from new baby bottles is precipitated by other factors such as the type of water used with the plastic appliance. For instance, the use of soft water should be recommended compared to tap water that contains dissolved minerals. When deionized water is used alongside the polycarbonate plastic bottles, there is no potential harm that can be transferred to the young developing organism. In addition, it is imperative to note that most of the research studies carried out on the impact of BPA on human health seem to have a common conclusion; that the exposure levels of bisphenol A whether at the workplace or in consumer products is far much below the recommended quantity by government agencies.
Biedermann-Brem, S. and Grob, K. (2009). “Release of bisphenol A from polycarbonate baby bottles: water hardness as the most relevant factor”, Eur Food Res Technol, 228:679–684.
Chenier, J.P. (2002). Survey of industrial chemistry, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Nielsen, S. S. (2010). Food Analysis, New York: Springer.