Study Shows BPA Replacement Could Be Just as Bad For You as BPA

Illustration for article titled Study Shows BPA Replacement Could Be Just as Bad For You as BPA

We might all need to buy new baby bottles. A new study by researchers at the University of Calgary has show for the first time that a widely used BPA substitute called BPS could have the same harmful health effects as the chemical we ditched. BPA-free might not mean squat.


"Bisphenol A," aka, BPA is a compound found in many polycarbonate plastics, like your old Nalgene water bottle from summer camp. It's everywhere, and it's been linked, as the authors point out, to obesity, cancer, and childhood neurological disorders. Study after study showed the chemical was harmful and so eventually, manufacturers relented and started using "bisphenol S," aka BPS, as a substitute. If you buy something that says "BPA-free" on it, there's a pretty good chance the manufacturer just swapped out BPS for BPA.

This would be a great triumph for consumers, except that now it seems that BPS is just as bad.

The Washington Post reports the findings study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which show that BPS has at least one unfortunate similarity to BPA in the way it affects Zebrafish. The study showed that caused the same "precocious" neurological behavior in zebrafish larvae as BPA, indicating that the overall effect of BPA and BPS could be similar on humans. In particular, the affects could be similar on childhood neurological development.

So what's to be done? Well, it's clear that BPS hasn't been tested nearly enough. According to the authors, "These findings suggest that BPA-free products are not necessarily safe and support a societal push to remove all structurally similar bisphenol analogues and other compounds with endocrine-disruptive activity from consumer goods." In other words, let's switch to something else. Yeah, that seems reasonable. [PNAS via WaPo]



I am not at all surprised! I work with plastics and most of my colleagues and I agreed when the first BPA mania was happening that any replacement would most likely just as bad!

Think of it this way, plastics are made from petroleum and a vast array of crazy modifying chemicals. We add chemicals to them to make them weatherproof, to color them, to prevent the color from bleeding, to prevent the plastic from hardening, to allow them to resist high temperature, to be soft, etc. Pretty much all of these chemicals are some form of noxious, often featuring a solvent, a chemical group that's hardly ever friendly. The original petroleum product isn't much better. At what point will we stop being surprised that petroleum products are unhealthy?

On another note, it's a fun exercise to look around your desk and ask which products will stop existing when we run out of oil. I'll give you a hint, it's anything with plastic in it. Is the desk starting to look rather empty? Good, keep going and you'll have to peel the paint off the walls and the carpets off the floors. Petroleum products, THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!