Plastic water container type 7 (C) Daniel Friedman Bisphenol-A BPA Endocrine Disruptor Information, Hazards, References
     

  • Bisphenol-A, BPA - containing plastics hazard summary
    • What plastic products contain BPA Bisphenol-A and how can you identify them?
    • Current status of regulations concerning the use of BPA Bisphenol-A in plastic containers
    • Endocrine disruptors described & explained - cancer and other health risks
    • Comparing the health effects of BPA Bisphenol-A to Diethylstilbestrol - DES
    • Notes on the health effects of eondocrine disruptors such as Diethylstilbestrol - DES, DES daughters, DES sons
    • Names & characteristics of types of nearly all types of plastics used for containers
  • CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER - separate article
  • PLASTIC CONTAINERS, TANKS, TYPES - separate article
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about contamination and health hazards from certain types of plastic bottles or containers
  • REFERENCES

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BPA in plastic bottles & containers: this article describes the types of plastics used in bottles, containers, and tanks, including for water storage. We identify possible contaminants that may leach into drinking water, other consumable liquds & foods or other products from some types of plastic such as bisphenol A or BPA, an estrogen mimicking chemical that forms one component of some plastic food and liquid containers. Also see PLASTIC CONTAINERS, TANKS, TYPES for our guide to other plastic types & the containers where they are used.

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BPA - Bisphenol-A - containing Plastics: A Summary on Health Concerns of [at least some] Plastic Containers & Endocrine Disruptors

BPA free water bottles for sale (C) Daniel FriedmanAlso see PLASTIC CONTAINERS, TANKS, TYPES and PLASTIC & FIBERGLASS TANKS, HDPE and see safety and health advice regarding cisterns and water storage tanks, including plastic water tanks, discussed at WATER TANK SAFETY.

Other plastics used in construction that have been subject of failures and/or litigation: see PLASTIC PLEXVENT ULTRAVENT RECALL and PLASTIC PIPING ABS CPVC PB PEX PVC. Disclosure: The website publisher/editor and author of these remarks, Daniel Friedman, is a DES-Son born in 1943.

Our photo of plastic water bottles (left) shows that by late September 2010, many water bottles for sale advertise that they are BPA-free. The bottles in our photo were on display at a Dicks Sporting Goods store in Poughkeepsie, NY.

According to the New York Times (7 Sept 2010)

Concerns about BPA stem from studies in lab animals and cell cultures showing that it can mimic the hormone estrogen. It is considered an "endocrine disruptor," a term applied to chemicals that can act like hormones. But whether it does any harm to people is unclear.

OPINION: the lack of clarity about the possible harm of endocrine disruptors (hormone mimicking chemicals) may stem in part from research supported by and claims confounded by the substantial financial interests involved. There appears to be sufficient evidence to treat the action of hormone mimicking chemicals with great caution and due concern.

Hormone mimicking chemicals may mimic estrogen but behave in very different ways, including accumulating in rather than being excreted from the human body, having a very long half-life (decades), and therefore playing a role, possibly a root-causal role in a variety of illnesses and complaints including (as listed by the Times and using estrogen chemicals as an example) breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, prostate cancer, uterine cancer, immune disorders, cardiovascular disorders, nervous system disorders, and possible effects on learning and behavioral disorders, even trans-generational effects (problems appearing in later generations of a human or other animals).

Because BPA binds to hormone receptors in both men and women and at all ages beginning at least with the embryo, a wide range of effects may be found.

BPA's are widely used in the production of some adhesives such as epoxies, epoxy resins, some flooring products, food can linings, some eyeglass and safety lenses, nail polish, food packaging, polycarbonate plastics, water filters, water pipe liners, even white dental fillings (epoxies). BPA used for lining water or food containers has been found to leach into the liquid or food contained, depending on the chemistry of the contained substance, and including peas, mixed vegetables, and mushrooms.

The Times article continued:

About half a dozen [U.S.] states have banned BPA in children's products ... This year a presidential panel on cancer and the environment said there was a "growing link" between BPA and several diseases, including cancer, and recommended ways to avoid BPA, like storing water in bottles free of it and not microwaving food in plastic containers. Some cancer experts said the report overstated the case against chemicals, but the concerns it raised seem to reflect growing public worries.

OPINION: Readers interested in the subtle but powerful effects of hormone mimicking chemicals and endocrine disruptors that appear in the environment, their sources, effects, and risks, should also see Our Stolen Future, Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers and discussed at Reviewers below. Quoting from Amazon:

This text identifies the various ways in which chemical pollutants in the environment are disrupting human reproductive patterns and causing such problems as birth defects, sexual abnormalities, and reproductive failure.

Quoting further from the September 2010 New York Times article:

... In 2008 a government study of 2,517 people of age 6 and older found that 93 percent had BPA in their urine. ... Children had higher levels than adults ... detected in umbilical cord blood of newborns ... children take longer to get rid of it ...

... Just finding a chemical in people does not mean that it is doing any damage, and there is no definitive proof that BPA harms humans ... [correlations observed between BPA levels and various health problems do not necessarily prove cause and effect - paraphrasing]

... The National Toxicology program also says, " The possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed" ... EPA... "There are questions about its potential impact, particularly on children's health and the environment." ... FDA... infants are "a potentially sensitive population for BPA" because their brains and endocrine systems are less efficient than adults' at detoxifying and eliminating foreign substances.

Significant and discussed in Our Stolen Future is the observation that at certain critical points in the development of animals, presumably including humans, exposure to extremely low levels of endocrine disruptor chemicals, perhaps just a few molecules, or in the parts per trillion, is sufficient to cause disruption of the animal's development, including proper sex differentiation, or the lack of it that produced androgynous ducks unable to reproduce under such conditions.

The significance of this finding includes the observation that an important medical effect that occurs with exposure to chemicals in extremely low concentrations means that experiments to test for correlations between chemical exposure and subsequent serious medical problems will be deeply flawed if, for example, the experimental design does not include testing for the presence of the chemical at extremely low levels.

A related concern is that even if harmful effects from exposure to extremely low concentrations of an endocrine disruptor are occurring, teasing out and proving that relationship can be also extremely difficult. Also see "Conflicting Opinions and Difficulty of Research About Chemical Contaminants" discussed below and also at CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER.

BPA is considered an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), bioaccumulative (B), and persistent in the environment (P).

Are BPA-containing Plastics the Only Potential Plastic Hazard?

Watch out: Other plastics may pose hormone mimicking or other chemical hazards: research conducted by Yang-Bittner et als and published in 2011 found problems with a wide range of BPA-free plastic products, and in 2012 an NPR news report [17] quoted Bittner as follows:

We found that most other plastic products also released chemicals having estrogenic activity," Bittner explains. He says even products that had no estrogenic activity when they came off the shelf changed under certain conditions, "such as boiling, microwaving, dishwashing or exposing to sunlight.
...

Many endocrinologists think it's time to identify chemicals that act on any of the body's hormone systems. Biologist Tom Zoeller at the University of Massachusetts says it doesn't make sense to focus only on chemicals that act like estrogen.
...
Regulators are discussing ways to identify a broad range of so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals. But even as agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration look to new potential threats, they still haven't reached a conclusion about some old ones — not even BPA.
[17]

And in an email to AIHA members (August 2012) AIHA, reporting on the NPR news article, commented as follows:

In 2007, Eastman Chemical began marketing a tough new BPA-free plastic called Tritan. About a year ago, a scientist named George Bittner published a study of more than 400 plastic products, including some made with Tritan. Bittner's study found problems with a wide range of BPA-free products, including Tritan. Eastman responded to the study by declaring that Tritan products are not only BPA-free but EA-free, and it filed a lawsuit against CertiChem and PlastiPure.[15][16][17][18]

Is BPA in Your Plastic Container? Look for a code 7 recycling symbol

Recycling code plastic type No. 7

As we discuss at PLASTIC CONTAINERS, TANKS, TYPES, containers marked with recycling symbol #7 plastics - Plastics-other (includes polycarbonate plastics) (Nalgene Corp. produces lexan water bottles) - may leach BPA - Bisphenol-A (health concerns).

BPA free water bottles (C) Daniel Friedman

Note: while BPA-containing plastic containers are expected to carry the #7 recycling label, according to the New York Times (7 Sept. 2010), not all plastics labeled with recycling symbol #7 are in fact BPA-containing. [13]

In response to consumer rejection, by mid 2012 in the U.S. manufacturers were no longer using BPA in baby bottles and "sippy cups", and in July 2012 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that baby bottles and children's drinking cups could no longer be produced to contain bisphenol A.

Interestingly a July 2012 New York Times report noted that this new prohibition against use of BPA in baby bottles would not apply to the us of BPA in other containers (such as water bottles and soft drink containers). The FDA declared BPA safe in 2008, then began noting possible health risks two years later in 2010.[14]

Comparing the U.S. and E. U. Approaches to BPA & Other Possibly-Harmful Chemicals

As the Times pointed out (September 2010),

  1. In the European Union regulators restrict or ban the use of a chemical if there are plausible health concerns even if technical proof has not been completed - referred to as a "better safe than sorry" approach.

  2. In the United States chemicals are not banned from use unless there is proof that they are harmful - as step that can be technically difficult to complete, as we describe at "Conflicting Opinions and Difficulty of Research About Chemical Contaminants in Drinking Water"

BPA Bisphenol-A Formula, MSDS Information & Synonyms

Bisphenol A has been used in the production of certain hard plastics in the U.S. since the 1960's. According to a BPA MSDS provided by Sigma-Aldrich, with edits and added information from the UK.

Formula for BPA Bisphenol-A:    C15H16O2

CAS No: 80-05-7
EINECS No: 201-245-8
Annex I Index No: 604-030-00-0

Synonyms for BPA Bisphenol-A:

Bisferol A (Czech) *
2,2-Bis-4’-hydroxyfenylpropan (Czech) *
Bis(4-hydroxyphenyl) dimethylmethane *
Bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)propane *
2,2-Bis(p-hydroxyphenyl)propane *
2,2-Bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)propane * Bisphenol *
Bisphenol A (OSHA) * 4,4’-Bisphenol A * DIAN *
p,p’-Dihydroxydiphenyldimethylmethane *
4,4’-Dihydroxydiphenyldimethylmethane *
p,p’-Dihydroxydiphenylpropane *
2,2-(4,4’-Dihydroxydiphenyl)propane *
4,4’-Dihydroxydiphenylpropane *
4,4’-Dihydroxydiphenyl-2,2-propane *
4,4’-Dihydroxy-2,2-diphenylpropane *
Dimethylmethylene-p,p’-diphenol *
beta-Di-p-hydroxyphenylpropane *
2,2-Di(4-hydroxyphenyl)propane * Dimethyl
bis(p-hydroxyphenyl)methane * Diphenylolpropane *
2,2-Di(4-phenylol)propane *
p,p’-Isopropylidenebisphenol *
4,4’-Isopropylidenebisphenol *
p,p’-Isopropylidenediphenol * NCI-C50635 *
Phenol, 4,4’-dimethylmethylenedi- * Propane,
2,2-bis(p-hydroxyphenyl)- * Ucar bisphenol A

Emergency Overview: [Note that an MSDS and its data are expected to pertain to direct chemical exposure in industry, not environmental exposure to trace levels of the substance]
Irritant.
Irritating to respiratory system and skin. Risk of serious damage
to eyes. May cause sensitization by skin contact.
Target organ(s): Liver. Bone marrow.

Note: Sigma-Aldrich Inc., shall not be held liable for any damage resulting from handling or from contact with the above product. Other terms apply.

Also see

Bisphenol-A, a Safety and Handling Guide, The Society of Plastics Industry, Inc. SPII, & Association of Plastics Manufacturers of Europe APME, web-search 09/07/2010, original source: http://www.bisphenol-a.org/pdf/BPAsafe.pdf

Comparing the Health Effects of BPA to DES - Diethylstilbestrol

The same September 2010 NY Times article describes

"... the most notorious example of an endocrine disruptor ... the drug diethylstilbestrol, or DES, which was given to pregnant women in the 1950's in the mistaken belief that it could prevent a miscarriage. The drug turned out to be a disaster, causing vaginal cancers and reproductive problems in some of the women's daughters and abnormalities in the reproductive organs of some sons. But DES is a far stronger estrogen mimic than is BPA, and women were exposed to much higher doses of it."

After she had suffered a miscarriage and the parents were continuing to try to have a successful second child, the author's mother was given DES in the early 1940's when it was a new "miracle drug" that was so difficult to obtain and considered so special that it was brought from a source in New York City to Richmond VA by special air courier.

In women DES was found to be a cause of vaginal cancers that appeared much later in life.

In men DES was found to cause a variety of reproductive anomalies ranging from azoospermia (Kleinfelter's syndrome) due to failure of the vas deferens to develop past a thread-like connection, to genital size anomalies and possibly lowered testosterone levels. Anomalies discovered in the author were not detected until nearly thirty years after his birth and fortunately were not significant impactors on physical health.

In speaking with individuals, men and women, who have suffered these problems, a recurrent theme expressed is that the costs of these medical conditions, physical, financial, emotional, and even social costs, are often far greater than are reflected in the professional and dispassionate language of research.

Conflicting Opinions and Difficulty of Research About Chemical Contaminants in Drinking Water

OPINION: One can cite at various reasons why readers will encounter varying opinions about the actual level of risk from various environmental contaminants including but not limited to the following:

  • Conflicting interests: Some parties have conflicts of interest, financial concerns, or a wish to avoid potential litigation that can arise from admitting even the smallest level of risk from environmental contaminants. Follow the money trail as part of your assessment of credibility. See Kristof's citation of the viewpoint of the American Chemical Council and the chemical industry.

    Some industry spokesmen argue that excessive caution causes financial injury and needless expense or even bans on useful products. They might argue that in some cases where a safe substitute has not been found for a potentially harmful product, other injuries or risks may be worse if it is banned. For example how do we measure the comparative risks of BPA - Bisphenol-A as an endocrine disruptor possibly causing serious defects against risks of food poisoning if metal food containers are not kept safely lined against corrosion?
  • Difficulty of setting chemical contaminant exposure standards: because endocrine disrupters may have very significant medical effects only during a narrow time window (such as at specific steps of sex determination of a developing ovum), and because these effects may occur when only a few molecules of the problem chemical are present and affecting the cells involved, the exposure levels that appear to be of potentially great concern may be so extremely low as to far exceed any contemporary standard as well as below the levels at which industry is able to control.

    These effects have been discussed by Kristof, Colborn et als, and in the 1960's by Carson (as well as hundreds of researchers, physicians, and other experts.
  • Subtlety and time duration before harmful effects are manifest: as documented in the texts we've cited, some physical effects in the humans or animals affected are subtle, perhaps not visible at all (DES sons and daughters for example), and while they occur at the time of gestation and development of the fetus of the human or animal involved, the actual health or reproductive impact may not be obvious for decades. (For example lowered sperm counts but not yet crossing the threshold at which a species cannot reproduce).
  • Consumer fear of environmental hazards can sometimes be irrational or excessive, leading to inappropriate costs for the consumer or for industry.

    People are often confused about the absolute level of risk of some hazards and have difficulty comparing and responding appropriately to actual risk levels from different hazards (a client who smoked and does not wear her seat belt while in an automobile, but who was frightened of electromagnetic fields). See What is Enviro-Scare for details.
  • Technical difficulties in testing for extremely-low levels of some contaminants. Example, using the observation that BPA - Bisphenol-A or BPA, is an endocrine disruptor with possibly serious effects (see Our Stolen Future).

    One significance of this finding includes the observation that an important medical effect that occurs with exposure to chemicals in extremely low concentrations means that experiments to test for correlations between chemical exposure and subsequent serious medical problems will be deeply flawed if, for example, the experimental design does not include testing for the presence of the chemical at extremely low levels.

    Another concern is the difficulty of comparing research results that reach different conclusions, often confounded by both major differences in study design (choosing adult versus infant versus embryonic subjects or failing to test for differences in action of a chemical on different genders or racial groups) and sometimes even apparently identical studies that varied in subtle ways (controls, lab techniques, even skill of lab operators).

    A related concern is that even if harmful effects from exposure to extremely low concentrations of an endocrine disruptor are occurring, teasing out and proving that relationship can be also extremely difficult. Finally, whenever a study appears to discover that extremely low levels of exposure to something are harmful, questions are raised about the possibilities of confounding effects of other chemicals or contaminants that may be present both in equally small amounts or even in much larger quantities.
  • Omission of possible cumulative effects of multiple environmental contaminants is a feature of most studies for obvious technical reasons. But as a result, possible cumulative, compounding, or interactive effects of the exposure to environmental contaminants likely to be encountered by a human or other animal are at risk of being overlooked or underestimated.

    For example at least some studies seeking the cause of elevated breast cancer among women living on Long Island, NY may have failed to consider possibly multiplicative effects of several ultra-low-level contaminants ubiquitous in the Long Island NY aquifer, very low level radiation in Long Island Sound ascribed to the Long Island Shoreham Nuclear Facility, proximity to New York City, high exposures to airborne contaminats originating from dense automobile traffic, etc. See Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project.

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