BPA-free plastics may up reproductive problems

Scientists Warn BPA-Free Plastic May Not Be Safe

Within 15 years, Hunt's study had driven the U.S. - and countries around the world - to ban BPA, mandating manufacturers to use safe alternatives, such as BPS.

However, the teams were able to determine that the mice were being exposed to replacement bisphenols. The early specialize in has urged that - in mice as a minimal - chemicals in BPA-free plastics might perchance perchance residing off reproductive considerations.

Hunt warns that our demand for plastic gives firms the impetus to override a slow, outdated regulatory system. The researchers say that regulation cannot keep up with innovation, which could have serious health repercussions for consumers.

'[R] egulatory agencies charged with assessing chemical safety can not keep pace with the introduction of new chemicals, ' she and her team write in the new study, published today in Current Biology.

The team pointed out that the current chemical regulations allow replacing "a chemical of concern with structural analogs", a much easier and cost effective method than finding the attributes that make that chemical risky.

Plastics should not be placed in dishwashers or microwaves, as doing so may damage them and cause BPA and its alternatives to leak. The cages of the control mice were cleaned inadvertently by a temporary worker using harsh detergents instead of the mild soaps. That means that even if safe in small doses, the accumulation over time would continue to impact people's health.

BPA is a chemical compound that has always been used to make plastic products including water bottles and to coat cans.

But in recent studies, Hunt and her colleagues again noticed odd results in their mice, as reported in Current Biology.

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Unfortunately, though, that may not be much better: a new study in the journal Current Biology found that some of those BPA-free replacements cause similar health problems in mice - including effects that are passed down between generations. And this time, they were contaminated by something believed to be harmless.

The mice exposed to BPS experienced changes in how the germ cells in their testes and ovaries copied and spliced DNA while producing sperm and eggs, Hunt said.

In the latest study, researchers from Washington State University and the University of California at San Francisco, wrote that the effects of bisphenol exposure can persist for several generations. Those studies confirm that replacement bisphenols produce remarkably similar chromosomal abnormalities to those seen so many years earlier in studies of BPA.

Hunt, who was labeled the "accidental toxicologist" by Scientific American magazine, said the pervasive use of the plastics may also compromise basic biological research. That's because not all of the cages were damaged and the source of contamination remained less certain.

So manufacturers came up with array of alternative bisphenols to replace BPA and marketed plastic bottles, containers and food trays as "BPA-free".

Hunt also suspected that other widely used and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including parabens, phthalates, and flame retardants, might be having similarly adverse effects on fertility.

'The ability to rapidly enhance the properties of a chemical has tremendous potential for treating cancer, enhancing medical and structural materials, and controlling risky infectious agents, ' the researchers write. "Importantly, this technology has paved the way for 'green chemistry, ' a healthier future achieved by engineering chemicals to ensure against hazardous effects".

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