1. News & Issues
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What is BPA?

By

water bottle with white cap on white background
whitewish/E+/Getty Images
Question: What is BPA?
The use of BPA (bisphenol A) in thousands of common household and consumer products has become increasingly controversial as new concerns about the potential health effects of BPA continue to emerge. But what is BPA exactly, and what do you need to know about BPA to protect yourself and your family?
Answer: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic hormone that mimics estrogen, binding to the same receptors in the human body (and the bodies of other mammals) as natural female hormones. Extensive tests were conducted in the 1930s to determine whether bisphenol A could be used in hormone replacement therapy for women, but it ultimately proved less effective than other chemicals as a source of synthetic estrogen.

Today, BPA is considered primarily an industrial chemical that is used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins which, in turn, are used in a wide variety of common products that people come into contact with every day—from plastic baby bottles and the lining in most food and beverage cans to cell phones and computers.

Studies have shown that exposure to bisphenol A can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer and liver abnormalities in adults and result in brain and hormone development problems in fetuses and young children. For the most part, human exposure to bisphenol is low-level, but it is also continuous and widespread, because BPA is present in so many of the products we all use every day.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.