Bisphenol A (BPA) belongs to the group of diphenylmethane derivatives and Bisphenols, with two hydroxyphenyl groups. BPA was first synthesized in 1881 and is primarily used as a monomer in the manufacture of polycarbonates, a high performance transparent, rigid plastic. At present two kinds of BPA based plastics are available in the market, one is Polycarbonate (PC) and the other one is Epoxy Resins (ERs). The former is used generally in baby feeding bottles, dental sealants, tooth coatings, carbonless papers and plastic toys while the latter is used as protective coatings for food and beverages container, bonding and adhesives, flooring, paving and construction, composites, electrical and electronic laminates, embedding and tooling, vinyl ester resins and other. Mostly, the surface lining of the food containers account for about 50% of all ER consumption.
BPA is now recognised as a chemical of concern. As a result, countries all over the world have come together to phase out BPA from products. Though developed as a synthetic estrogen, BPA was initially considered to be a weak environmental estrogen, however, recent studies have demonstrated that it has a potential to cause serious health disorders. BPA is one of the chemicals designated as an Endocrine Disrupting Chemical (EDC) and these substances interferes with the normal human endocrine system. Research studies have found that BPA interact with a number of systems in the body inclusive of those regulated by female hormone, estrogen and by thyroid hormones. BPA can impact the fetus developing inside the mother’s womb thereby affecting the developing brain and subsequent behaviour of the child.
Several research studies have also proved that BPA exposure in any form is harmful to health. A recent experiment (2015) on BPA leaching from plastics indicated the presence of BPA in boiled water attenuates the protective cardio respiratory reflexes and also produces histo-pathological changes in the lungs of the rats. In another experiment (2014), it was found that BPA migrates from PC baby feeding bottles on an average value 19 ng/ml to hot water at 700C. Countries across the globe have voluntary phased out BPA from the products and emphasis has been made to make the children’s product BPA free as far as possible.
In India, the need of the hour is to create scientific data on the impact of chemicals in human health and environment. Efforts have been taken in order to phase out the use of such harmful chemicals from the products. However, there is no standard defined for the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) of BPA in human beings in India while FDA, EPA, Australia, China and Korean Food Safety Authority have defined TDI as 50 µg/kg bw/day while European Food Safety Authority has lowered the value to 4 µg/kg bw/day which is 12 times lower than the previous level.
Subsequently, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has revised the standards for baby feeding bottles in 2015 as per IS 14625:2015 and prohibited the use of BPA in baby feeding bottles. The Ministry of Child Welfare has also taken action and mentioned that as per section no. 4.1 of IS 14625:2015, “the material used for plastic feeding bottles and accessories excluding teats shall be of polypropylene conforming to IS 10910 or polyethersulfone (PES) or any other olefin based polymer, co-polyester material or other raw material as given in Annex II for manufacture of plastic feeding bottles. The materials used should pose no health hazards to babies and shall not contain Bisphenol -A (BPA).”
Following these initiatives, Toxics Link has taken up the BPA Campaign in an effort to eliminate this Endocrine Disrupting Chemical from the consumer products in India. We are continuously doing primary research & analysis, and survey on BPA in consumer products and released several reports on the same. We are also engaged with policy makers to phase out BPA from feeding bottles.
List of research studies, factsheets on BPA:
Bottles Can Be Toxic – Part II
Factsheet 52 on BISPHENOL-A (BPA) In Teethers – An Indian Perspective