What Is BPA and Is It Dangerous in Manufacturing?

At our injection molding company in North Carolina, we work with a multitude of different thermoplastic materials. On top of that, we use coatings, additives, fillers, and reinforcing agents to ensure the plastics we manufacturer meet the exact needs of our customers. One of the additives that has been commonly used for years is bisphenol A, also called BPA. It's come under fire in recent years, and we wanted to take a closer look. What is it? What is it used for? What makes it dangerous? We're taking a deep dive to determine the answers to all those questions.

What Is BPA?

Bisphenol A is an organic synthetic compound - a compound that is created by the reaction of combining two compounds, one or both of which may be synthetic. Most polymers, including nearly all plastics and rubbers, are organic, synthetic compounds.

BPA adds strength and flexibility to polymers, and is primarily used in polycarbonate and epoxy resin. In 2003, over 856,000 tons of BPA was used. Nearly three-fourths of that went into making polycarbonate and another quarter went into epoxy resin.

What Is BPA Used In?

As a "precursor" to polycarbonate and epoxy, this clear, sturdy plastic is used in a wide variety of consumer goods, including:

  • Plastic reusable bottles for water;
  • Food storage containers, like Tupperware
  • Baby bottles (before 2012)
  • Sporting goods
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Shatterproof windows
  • Eyeglass lenses

Epoxy coatings with BPA are also used for:

  • Dental sealants and composites
  • Thermal paper (receipt paper)
  • Lining for metal cans

While it may seem like a lot, today, only about 5 percent of the BPA that's produced is used for products that come in contact with food, specifically canned food liners.

Health Concerns About BPA

The main concern about BPA is that it is an "endocrine disupting chemical," or, EDC because it's a xenoestrogen. First, xenoestrogen is a compound that, when absorbed into the body, can mimic the effects of estrogen by binding to the receptors and even influencing bodily processes like cell growth and repair. Excess, long term exposure to endocrine disruptors, particularly in children, can lead to health problems, including alterations in reproductive functions, immune health concerns, and even an increased risk of certain cancers.

That makes BPA sound terrifying, doesn't it? The important thing to realize is that it can only enter the body when it leaches into our food or drinks. This means the plastic has to break down, and the BPA is released into what you're eating or drinking. Primarily, this occurs through microwaving or using a high heat cycle in your dishwasher. This means that sports equipment, eyeglasses, or receipt paper is generally thought to be harmless.

Even more important is that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that BPA is safe at the very low levels that may be found in some foods (particularly canned goods) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the position that it's not a concern. Globally, the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency has determined it is not a health concern.

Contact Us to Discuss the Best Plastics for Your Custom Products

It's important to note that while BPA is generally considered safe, many companies are making the choice to go with other plastics and additives. Our design and engineering teams are happy to sit down with you and discuss the right options for your custom plastics to help you get the best results while ensuring a product you feel confident in. To learn more, reach out to our team today. We work with all types of industries in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, including North Carolina, PennsylvaniaMarylandTennesseeGeorgia, and Virginia.

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