Our exposure to a common plastic additive linked to breast cancer and obesity likely exceeds health thresholds set by governments worldwide.
The European Environment Agency, citing updated research data, said the new findings raise “significant health concerns” for the entire European population – and, by extension, anyone who comes into frequent contact with plastic.
The agency cited a study that found every single participant of a biomonitoring study was likely exposed to the chemical above safe health thresholds. The participants came from 11 European countries.
The chemical, bisphenol-a, or “BPA,” makes plastics hard and is found in a variety of products, from reusable water bottles and plastic food containers to sports equipment. It is also a key ingredient in epoxies and resins, including canned food liners. And that grittiness you feel when you rub a thermal paper sales receipt between your fingers? That’s BPA.
“Bisphenol A poses a much more widespread risk to our health than previously thought,” Leena Ylä-Mononen, the European Environmental Agency’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “We must take the results of this research seriously and take more action at EU level to limit the exposure to chemicals that pose a risk to the health of Europeans.”
EU regulators are taking several steps to reduce BPA exposure. One proposal would slash the accepted exposure level of BPA in food contact materials nearly 20,000-fold, all but banning the product.
The United States takes a starkly different approach: The U.S. safe daily exposure level for BPA, set in 1988, is 250,000 times higher than the proposed European recommendation.
More troubling: Researchers suspect efforts to measure BPA in our blood and bodies “dramatically underestimate” the amount – a finding with profound public health impacts, given that the Food and Drug Administration maintains BPA is safe in part because the agency asserts human exposure is “negligible.”