Bisphenol A (BPA)

About BPA
BPA the building block of polycarbonate plastic – a hard clear plastic. Polycarbonate is used to make food and beverage containers, eye glasses, dental sealants and many other products.  BPA is also used to make epoxy resins–which serve as protective linings on the inside of some canned foods and beverages, in the coating on thermal receipts, and in other applications.

How am I exposed?
People are exposed to bisphenol A when the chemical leaches into food, formula, and water from cans, baby bottles, water bottles, or other polycarbonate plastic containers. Bisphenol A in household dust may be another source of exposure. People are exposed from bisphenol A-containing dental materials or from the coatings on thermal receipts.

Why should I be concerned?
Bisphenol A is a hormone disrupting chemical that has been shown to have a variety of health effects at low doses.

What can government and business do?

State and federal governments should take immediate action to end the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles, infant formula cans, sports water bottles, and food and beverage cans.

State and federal governments should determine whether alternatives are available for the use of bisphenol A in other products that may result in human exposure or environmental contamination.

Makers of products containing bisphenol A, especially baby bottles, sports water bottles, infant formula cans, and food and beverage cans, should phase out their use of the chemical in favor of safer alternatives.

What is being done in Massachusetts?

In 2010 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups following a campaign by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow.  In the 2015-2016 legislative session, the Alliance is supporting a bill filed by Senator Karen Spilka that would ban BPA in children’s products including toys, bottles, cups and any child care article as well as any container made to be filled with food and/or beverages.

How can I reduce my exposure?

  • Choose alternatives to polycarbonate plastic* for baby bottles, sports water bottles, and food containers. For babies, glass and cloudy plastic bottles are better choices. For sports bottles, the best choice is stainless steel.
  • Choose powdered rather than liquid infant formula. If you do need liquid formula, use bisphenol A-free containers.
  • Limit your intake of canned foods and beverages. For some canned foods, bisphenol A – free cans are available.**
  • Do not heat your food in plastic containers;
  • Throw away damaged plastic kitchen ware (including hard clear plastic glasses or bottles filled with hairline cracks);
  • Buy fresh or frozen foods instead of canned;
  • When getting dental fillings, ask for “composite” rather than “resin” or “amalgam” fillings. Resin fillings contain BPA and amalgam contains mercury;
  • Skip getting a receipt at the store, gas station or ATM.

* Polycarbonate plastic bottles and containers are labeled with a “7” inside a recycling symbol with the letters “PC” (for polycarbonate) or “OTHER” beneath.  Note that not every plastic labeled with 7 and “OTHER” is polycarbonate.

**IMPORTANT: just because a product is labeled “BPA free” does not necessarily mean that it is non-toxic! Always ask what the product is made of and whether that material is linked to negative health impacts.

Additional Resources
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: Bisphenol A (BPA)
Breast Cancer Fund: The State of the Evidence on Bisphenol A (BPA)

Washington Toxics Coalition provided content for this page.