BISPHENOLS are synthetic compounds used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. They are also used as antioxidants in PVC plastics. The most common bisphenol is bisphenol A (BPA).
Polycarbonate plastics are flexible, but very shatter- and heatproof materials and are in widespread use due to their positive attributes. Thus, objects containing BPA are widely used for numerous purposes. The plastic containers used in microwave ovens, the sturdier plastic plates, transparent, glass-like cups and lids and the water dispensers are all made of polycarbonate. BPA can get into the food and drink through prolonged storage, heating, sunshine, microwaves as well as the acidic-basic media has an influence on it. BPA can also be found in many other products, such as CDs, DVDs, computers, laptops and phone cases.
Epoxy resin plastics also contain bisphenols. These are used, for example on the inside surface of tin cans. They can also be found on thermal papers (e.g., receipts) and they can enter the human body through skin contact. Products made of PVC can also contain bisphenols.
Bisphenols play a role in the etiology of numerous diseases by interfering with the hormone system, especially during foetal and childhood development but also in the adult organism. They can, like phthalates, influence sexual development in the foetal and infant age (causing, for example, cryptorchidism, urinary tract disorders, early puberty) and can contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g.: attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities). They influence reproductive functions, can cause fertility problems, reduced sperm count, polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis. Later in life they can contribute to metabolic disorders, obesity and diabetes.
The use of bisphenols in the production of feeding bottles and the packaging materials of infant food products has been banned in the European Union (EU). The EU also determined the maximum amount that can be released from materials that come into contact with food products and from children’s toys. Their ban in thermal paper comes into effect in 2020. There are still many places outside the EU where such limitations have not been applied. Furthermore, the small amounts released from several products cumulate.
The amount of bisphenols absorbed into the body can be reduced with care. It is good practice to use products made of natural materials instead of plastics and paying increased attention to the components, picking only products that are PVC- and BPA-free. Heating food and drinks in polycarbonate (labelled as: PC) plastic containers should be avoided and glass, stainless steel and ceramic containers should be used instead. Exposure to the chemicals can be significantly reduced by consuming fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit instead of canned food. Avoid jars with a metal lid when storing warm food or for preserving. Dust can also contain BPA so dusting with a wet towel and cleaning regularly is important. Avoid letting little children touch thermal paper, receipts or plastic products made of PVC or polycarbonate.