September 30, 2010
By: Jonathan Benson
Some recent reports about the dangers of the plastic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) insist that people not worry because overall exposure is limited, they say. But a new report published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives says otherwise, estimating that the average person is exposed to at least eight times the daily amount of BPA that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers “safe”.
“Our data raise grave concerns that regulatory agencies have grossly underestimated current human exposure levels,” explain study authors in their report.
Many even question the EPA’s 50 micrograms per day threshold, citing evidence that minimal amounts of the chemical interfere with proper hormone balance, both in children and adults. But at eight times that amount, there is no telling the amount of damage being inflicted.
According to Thomas Zoeller, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, BPA is known to mimic estrogen in the body. It also binds to two other receptors, including those associated with male hormones like testosterone and thyroid hormones. When altered, these imbalanced hormones eventually lead to serious illness.
Some argue that the liver filters out most BPA from the body within a few hours anyway, but scientific studies have shown that this is not the case. Julia Taylor, a biologist at the University of Missouri, conducted a study on both mice and monkeys which revealed that some BPA stays in the blood and remains “biologically active” long after exposure. And such findings can be extrapolated from monkeys and mice to humans because these animals process BPA in similar ways to humans.
“These data should make us reconsider some previously held hypotheses about BPA, such as how quickly it is cleared from the body and the differences in metabolism between species,” emphasized Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, concerning the findings.
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