The “BPA-free” labels on plastic bottles serve as a reassurance that the product is safe to drink out of. But new research adds onto growing evidence that BPA-free alternatives may not be as safe as consumers think. Researchers found that in mice, BPA replacements caused decreased sperm counts and less-viable eggs. Though this research was done on mice, the researchers think the results could hold true for humans. But more research would be needed to confirm. BPA, which stands for Bisphenol A, is a chemical that has been used in food and beverage packaging since the 1960s. Specifically, it is used to make a hard, clear plastic called polycarbonate that found in the protective lining on some metal food and drink cans.
BPA is similar in structure to the hormone estrogen, and so it could interfere with the actions of hormones in the body. The chemical can leach into food and beverage products from packaging materials.
Previous studies have linked BPA exposure to many health problems; in addition to obesity, BPA exposure has been tied to early puberty, miscarriage, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Overall, 97% of participants had detectable levels of BPA in their urine samples; 88% had detectable levels of BPS; and 55% had detectable levels of BPF, the authors found. Children with high levels of BPS in their urine samples were more likely to be obese, as determined by theirbody mass index, compared with kids who had lowever levels of BPS.
In addition, participants with detectable levels of BPF were more likely to have abdominal obesity, meaning they had a particularly large waist circumference, compared with children who did not have detectable levels of BPF. Consumers who want to avoid bisphenol chemicals besides BPA “are in a very difficult position,” researcher said. There is no way for consumers to really know whether a product contains these chemicals, he said.
“I think consumers don’t have good options in terms of how to … make informed choices,” Spaeth told Live Science. For this to change, there would need to be changes to the way these chemicals are regulated and how products are labeled, he said.