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FAQs on Bisphenol-A (BPA)

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What is BPA?

BPA stands for bisphenol A. It is an organic chemical which is the essential basic building block (intermediate) for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Around two thirds of all BPA is used to produce polycarbonate plastic, which is a highly durable, versatile, heat and shatter-resistant and transparent plastic found in a wide range of essential consumer applications.


Are BPA and BPA-based polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins safe?

BPA and BPA-based polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins have been extensively studied and tested for health and safety by both manufacturers and government agencies. Such tests have demonstrated that consumer exposure to BPA is very low and does not pose a risk to human health. Government agencies worldwide have authorised the use of BPA and BPA-based polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins in consumer applications, including sensitive applications such as food and beverage contact materials. These BPA-based applications have been safely used for over 50 years.


Where is BPA used?

BPA-based materials are used where specific, essential properties are needed. Examples of articles made from BPA-based materials such as polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin are optical storage units like DVDs and CDs, unbreakable glazing, lightweight transparent roofs, safety helmets, car parts, housings for electronic equipment, windmill blades and epoxy coated articles such as lined cans. Other applications include food contact products such as water bottles or food storage containers.

What do health authorities say about BPA?

Health authorities throughout the world have studied and tested bisphenol A (BPA) and have concluded that it is safe in its current and intended uses, both in consumer and industrial applications. BPA has been thoroughly studied and safely used over the past 50 years and has received authorisation for use for materials in food contact by diverse health authorities, including the European Commission and its expert body, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The use of BPA in the manufacture of plastic food contact articles meets the strict safety requirements of the authorities responsible for consumer health.


What are the main benefits of BPA-based polycarbonate plastic?

Bisphenol A (BPA), the basic building block for polycarbonate and epoxy resin, is scientifically tested and well understood. BPA-based polycarbonate plastic is one of the most durable and versatile plastics available. The reliable material provides numerous benefits to users, such as high durability and light weight, heat and shatter resistance, while being at the same time transparent and clear.


Does BPA migrate from polycarbonate plastic food and drink containers into the food?

Generally, with any kind of material, be it wood, glass, metal, plastics, migration of certain substances can be measured, especially with today´s highly sensitive analytics methods. The important question is what and how much migrates, whether this can have adverse effects, and whether these questions were properly studied. As for Bisphenol A,during the production of polycarbonate plastic, bisphenol A (BPA) is firmly bound into the polymeric structure of the plastic. While there is some potential for extremely small amounts of BPA to migrate from polycarbonate plastic, the level is far below safety based upper limits set by government bodies such as the European Union's Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Exposure to trace amounts of BPA poses no known health risk. In fact, the human body rapidly metabolises and excretes small amounts of BPA with no health effects. Regulatory agencies in Europe, the U.S. and Japan all authorise BPA and thus the use of polycarbonate plastic in applications that come in direct contact with food.


Why has Europe, like Canada, restricted the use of BPA if it is safe?

The scientific expert bodies responsible for consumer health in Europe as well as in Canada concluded in their scientific assessments that the general public is exposed to very low levels of BPA through ingestion of food and beverages in contact with polycarbonate or epoxy resin, and that at such low levels of exposure BPA does not pose a health risk. Nevertheless, governing bodies decided to take measures to further reduce the exposure of  babies and small children by banning the sale of BPA-based polycarbonate baby bottles. In Canada, the ban is enforced since March 2010, in Europe it will be enforced as of June 2011. Europe´s regulators have confirmed that there is no risk to consumers from BPA-based food contact materials. BPA is not a risk at the low levels to which humans are exposed, and BPA exposure to newborns and infants is far below the levels that could cause any health effects.


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