Bisphenols (e.g. BPA, BPS)

Found in

BPA, BPF, BPS: Polycarbonate plastic, food can linings, thermal receipt paper  BPA: dental sealants, powder coated metal cribs, bikes

Health Effects

BPA, BPS, BPF: hormone disruption, BPA: effects on reproduction & development, cancer; genetic damage; obesity & diabetes

More details

BPA is a chemical component of polycarbonate plastic in many food and drink containers and in epoxy resin coatings in food cans. Some children’s toys are also made of polycarbonate plastic, containing BPA. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) bio-monitoring program has detected BPA in the urine of 93 percent of adults sampled.i Scientists have measured BPA in the blood of pregnant women, in umbilical cord blood and in the placenta, all at levels shown to cause harm in laboratory animals.ii iii BPA disrupts hormones in the human body and low-dose early life exposure in rodent and human cellular studies is linked with reproductive and developmental problems, genetic damageiv and cancer.v vi vii Higher BPA levels in urine were associated with ovarian dysfunction,viii recurrent miscarriages,ix cardiovascular diagnoses, diabetes, obesity, abnormal concentrations of liver enzymesx and reported heart disease in humans.xi

There is growing evidence from both animal and human studies that BPA may be contributing to obesity. Perinatal exposure to BPA followed by a normal diet resulted in increased body weight, elevated insulin and impaired glucose tolerance in adult rat offspring.xii Children and adolescents with higher urinary BPA concentrations were more likely to be obese.xiii

BPS has replaced BPA in many consumer product applications, such as thermal receipt paper, polycarbonate plastic and other polymer applications. While the safety of BPS has been less studied, there is evidence that it is a hormone disruptor.xiv In addition to BPA and BPS, other bisphenols have shown evidence of hormone disruption, including BPAF, BPB and BPF.xv A recent study found that exposure to BPA, BPS and phthalates, was associated with increases in oxidant stress, insulin resistance, albuminuria (a marker for kidney disease) and disturbances in vascular function in children.xvi Bisphenols in thermal receipt paper can be an important source of exposure for pregnant shoppers and cashiers in baby retail stores, who handle receipts, as these chemicals are easily absorbed through the skin.xvii


i Calafat AM, Kuklenyik, Reidy J et al. Urinary concentrations of bisphenol A and 4-nonylphenol in a human reference population. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2005;113(4):391-395.

ii Schonfelder G, Wittfoht W, Hopp H et al. Parent bisphenol A accumulation in the maternal-fetal-placental unit. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2004;110(211):A703-A707.

iii Ikezuki Y, Tsutsumi O, Takai Y et al. Determination of bisphenol A concentrations in human biological fluids reveals significant early prenatal exposure. Hum Reprod. 2002;17:2839-2841.

iv Hunt, PA, Koehler KE, Susiarjo M et al. Bisphenol A exposure causes meiotic aneuploidy in the female mouse. Current Biology. 2003;13:546-553.

v Wetherill, YB, Petre C, Monk KR et al. The Xenoestrogen Bisphenol A Induces Inappropriate Androgen Receptor Activation and Mitogenesis in Prostatic Adenocarcinoma Cells. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2002;1:515-24.

vi Markey, CM, Luque EH, Munoz de Toro M et al. In Utero Exposure to Bisphenol A Alters the Development and Tissue Organization of the Mouse Mammary Gland. Biology of Reproduction. 2001;65:1215–1223.

vii Munoz-de-Toro M, Markey C, Wadia PR et al. Perinatal exposure to bisphenol A alters peripubertal mammary gland development in mice. Endocrinology. 2005;146(9):4138-47.

viii Takeuchi T, Tsutsumi O, Ikezuki Y et al. Positive relationship between androgen and the endocrine disruptor, bisphenol A, in normal women and women with ovarian dysfunction. Endocrine Journal. 2004;51(2):165-169.

ix Sugiura-Ogasawara M, Ozaki Y, Sonta S, Makino T, Suzumori K. Exposure to bisphenol A is associated with recurrent miscarriage. Hum Reprod. 2005;20(8):2325-29.

x IA Lang, TS Galloway, A Scarlett, WE Henley, et al. Association of urinary bisphenol A concentration with medical disorders and laboratory abnormalities in adults. JAMA 2008; 300(11): 1303-10.

xi Melzer, D., NE Rice, C Lewis, WE Henley, and TS Galloway. Association of urinary bisphenol A concentration with heart disease: evidence from NHANES 2003/06. PLoS One. 2010; 5(1):e8673.

xii Wei J, Li Y, Ying C, Chen J et al. Perinatal exposure to bisphenol A at reference dose predisposes offspring to metabolic syndrome in adult rats on am high fat diet. Endocrinology. 2011;152(8):3049-61.

xiii Trasande L, Attina TM, Blustein J. Association Between Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration and Obesity Prevalence in Children and Adolescents. JAMA. 2012;308(11):1113-1121.

xiv Manjumol M, Sreedhanya S, Manoj P, Aravindakumar CT, Aravind UK. Exploring the interaction of bisphenol-S with serum albumins: a better or worse alternative for bisphenol A?". The Journal of Physical Chemistry.  2014;118(14):3832–3843.

xv Chen D, Kannan K, Tan H, Zheng Z et al. Bisphenol analogues other than BPA: environmental occurrence, human exposure, and toxicity- a review. Environ Sci Technol. 2016;50(11):5438-53.

xvi Kataria A, Levine D, Wertenteil S, Vento S et al. Exposure to bisphenols and phthalates and association with oxidant stress, insulin resistance, and endothelial dysfunction in children. Pediatr Res. 2017;81(6):857-64.

xvi Ecology Center, More than you Bargained For: BPS and BPA in Receipts.

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