BPA chemical leaches from plastic drinking bottles into people

May 21, 2009
BPA chemical leaches from plastic drinking bottles into people
In 2008, Harvard undergraduate Scott Elfenbein was part of a two-week study to determine if drinking from the popular hard-plastic bottles increased levels of BPA. File photogaph by Matt Craig/Harvard News Office

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that participants who drank for a week from polycarbonate bottles, the popular, hard-plastic drinking bottles and baby bottles, showed a two-thirds increase in their urine of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Exposure to BPA, used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics, has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans. The study is the first to show that drinking from polycarbonate bottles increased the level of urinary BPA, and thus suggests that drinking containers made with BPA release the chemical into the liquid that people drink in sufficient amounts to increase the level of BPA excreted in human urine.

In addition to polycarbonate bottles, which are refillable and a popular container among students, campers and others and are also used as , BPA is also found in dentistry composites and sealants and in the lining of aluminum food and beverage cans. (In bottles, polycarbonate can be identified by the recycling number 7.) Numerous studies have shown that it acts as an endocrine-disruptor in animals, including early onset of sexual maturation, altered development and tissue organization of the mammary gland and decreased sperm production in offspring. It may be most harmful in the stages of early development.

"We found that drinking cold liquids from polycarbonate bottles for just one week increased urinary BPA levels by more than two-thirds. If you heat those bottles, as is the case with baby bottles, we would expect the levels to be considerably higher. This would be of concern since infants may be particularly susceptible to BPA's endocrine-disrupting potential," said Karin B. Michels, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH and Harvard Medical School and senior author of the study.

The researchers, led by first author Jenny Carwile, a doctoral student in the department of epidemiology at HSPH, and Michels, recruited Harvard College students for the study in April 2008. The 77 participants began the study with a seven-day "washout" phase in which they drank all cold beverages from stainless steel bottles in order to minimize BPA exposure. Participants provided urine samples during the washout period. They were then given two polycarbonate bottles and asked to drink all cold beverages from the bottles during the next week; samples were also provided during that time.

The results showed that the participants' urinary BPA concentrations increased 69% after drinking from the polycarbonate bottles. (The study authors noted that BPA concentrations in the college population were similar to those reported for the U.S. general population.) Previous studies had found that BPA could leach from polycarbonate bottles into their contents; this study is the first to show a corresponding increase in urinary BPA concentrations in humans.

One of the study's strengths, the authors note, is that the students drank from the bottles in a normal use setting. Additionally, the students did not wash their bottles in dishwashers nor put hot liquids in them; heating has been shown to increase the leaching of BPA from polycarbonate, so BPA levels might have been higher had students drunk hot liquids from the bottles.

Canada banned the use of BPA in polycarbonate baby bottles in 2008 and some polycarbonate bottle manufacturers have voluntarily eliminated BPA from their products. With increasing evidence of the potential harmful effects of BPA in humans, the authors believe further research is needed on the effect of BPA on infants and on reproductive disorders and on breast cancer in adults.

"This study is coming at an important time because many states are deciding whether to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. While previous studies have demonstrated that BPA is linked to adverse health effects, this study fills in a missing piece of the puzzle—whether or not polycarbonate plastic bottles are an important contributor to the amount of BPA in the body," said Carwile.

More information: The study appears on the website of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and is freely available at http://www.ehponline.org/members/2009/0900604/0900604.pdf.
"Use of Polycarbonate Bottles and Urinary Concentrations," Jenny L. Carwile, Henry T. Luu, Laura S. Bassett, Daniel A. Driscoll, Caterina Yuan, Jennifer Y. Chang, Xiaoyun Ye, Antonia M. Calafat, Karin B. Michels, Environmental Health Perspectives, online May 12, 2009.

Bisphenol A (BPA): www.niehs.nih.gov/news/media/questions/sya-bpa.cfm

Source: Harvard School of Public Health (news : web)

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User comments : 9

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Bob_Kob
2.9 / 5 (8) May 21, 2009
Why the fuck are they still letting companies fuck with our lives?
petrosdias
1 / 5 (2) May 21, 2009
Nice article. But it doesn't tell us the most important fact we should know; WHICH containers contain BPA. Cmon, all this research and they can't even simply let us know which bottles to avoid?
Soylent
5 / 5 (1) May 21, 2009
Nice article. But it doesn't tell us the most important fact we should know; WHICH containers contain BPA. Cmon, all this research and they can't even simply let us know which bottles to avoid?


As the article says, bisphenol A is found in polycarbonates. It is also found in some plasticizers etc.
tonche
5 / 5 (1) May 21, 2009
Dont drink from bottles with a 4 or 7 inside the recycle logo at the bottom of the bottle (in Australia)
John_Doe
not rated yet May 22, 2009
"To be certain that you are choosing a bottle that does not leach, check the recycling symbol on your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine. The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it. Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill."



Source: http://trusted.md..._bottles

Poland Springs is #1, a no no.
googleplex
5 / 5 (2) May 22, 2009
Nice article. But it doesn't tell us the most important fact we should know; WHICH containers contain BPA. Cmon, all this research and they can't even simply let us know which bottles to avoid?
I strive to use a culinary grade stainless steel containers for my daily water bottle and glass for kitchen. The leaching has been proven in academia for at least 15 years. I know because back then I read an article in Scientific American about a german research PhD student who tested such leachinig. From his findings he immediately ceased using plastic bottles. I figured he knew something and I have avoided plasticated food ever since.
The issue here is that the chemicals interfere with the endocrine system, so microscopic amounts can have huge effects on our bodies. This issue is very dangerous during childhood.
A little known fact is that PBA plastics are used as a waterproof coating inside paper cartons (milk/juic) and tin cans. So keep that in mind too.
The food industry regulation is backward looking. It only applies new regs after proof emerges. So you have to stay one step ahead. Science is very un-scientific with toxins. It appears to take an innocent until proven toxic approach. Whereas they should use a fail safe toxic until proven safe approach. Science/corporations keep making the same mistakes over and over. So clearly the current regulatory system is flawed. Until it is fixed you have to get smart and do your own research.
googleplex
3 / 5 (1) May 22, 2009
Why the fuck are they still letting companies fuck with our lives?
The companies only sell what consumers are stupid enough to buy. As consumers smart up they make better informed decisions. The government does not protect you. You protect you. The government then tries to be a safety net to catch anything that slips through the individuals own decisions. Everyone wants to be pampered. The reality of life is that you get out of it what you put in.
Amy_Steri
not rated yet May 29, 2009
That smacks of social Darwinism googleplex. Are you saying that those of us who don't stay informed about what the companies we consume from are doing deserve what they get? Someone needs to have oversight on this stuff. BPA is in almost every prepackaged food and beverage container. Maybe if the Cheney administration hadn't replaced the FDA with inexperienced yes-men who's only qualification was GOP membership, we might have some real protection.
googleplex
not rated yet Jun 03, 2009
I am saying that the reality is that regulators and government do a pitiful job. So the honus falls onto the individual. I leave the social/political debate to people more qualified in that area than me. Is this social Darwinism...Yes. But then most things in life are.

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