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Bisphenol A - toxic effects on human development

Posted Sep 16 2008 7:12am

NIEHS.NIH.gov - Current human exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in many polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, is of “some concern” for effects on development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children, according to a final report released today by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

The report provides the NTP’s current opinion on BPA’s potential to cause harm to human reproduction or development. The conclusions are based primarily on a broad body of research involving numerous laboratory animal studies. The report is part of a lengthy review of the scientific literature on BPA and takes into consideration public and peer review comments received on an earlier draft report. The final report is available as a free PDF download here:

Bisphenol A and human development - National Toxicology Program Report

“There remains considerable uncertainty whether the changes seen in the animal studies are directly applicable to humans, and whether they would result in clear adverse health effects,” said NTP Associate Director John Bucher, Ph.D. “But we have concluded that the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed.”

About the impact that these findings may have on consumers, CERHR Director Michael Shelby, Ph.D., said, “Unfortunately, it is very difficult to offer advice on how the public should respond to this information. More research is clearly needed to understand exactly how these findings relate to human health and development, but at this point we can’t dismiss the possibility that the effects we’re seeing in animals may occur in humans. If parents are concerned, they can make the personal choice to reduce exposures of their infants and children to BPA.”

The NTP, an interagency federal research program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, uses a five-level scale ranging from negligible to serious, with “some concern” being the midpoint.

“We are expressing this level of concern because we see developmental changes occurring in some animal studies at BPA exposure levels similar to those experienced by humans,” Bucher said, regarding the question of risk to the child in pregnancy.

The report also expresses “minimal concern” that BPA exposure will affect development of the mammary gland or accelerate puberty in females. The NTP expressed “negligible concern” that exposure of pregnant woman to BPA will result in fetal or neonatal mortality, birth defects or reduced birth weight and growth in their offspring.

The NTP also expressed “negligible concern” that exposure to BPA causes reproductive effects in non-occupationally exposed adults and “minimal concern” for workers exposed to higher levels in occupational settings.

“The literature on experimental animal studies is large and filled with many conflicting findings. There are a number of remaining uncertainties in the scientific information on BPA,” said Bucher. The report discusses many of the uncertainties, including the very limited data on bisphenol A effects from studies in humans and the difficulty in relating the often subtle developmental endpoints in animal studies to human health risks from bisphenol A.

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