January 13, 2015 – A study completed by researchers at the University of Calgary and published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ suggests pregnant women should avoid handling credit card and cash register receipts made from thermal paper because they contain Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS) - posing a threat to their unborn children.
The report implies that BPA and BPS alter and disrupt normal brain cell growth and behaviour in animals even with exposure in extremely low doses.
While the research was completed on embryonic Zebrafish, Deborah Kurrasch, lead researcher, and her colleagues, are adamantly calling for “removal of all Bisphenol from consumer merchandise.”
Researchers maintain their report is the first to show that Bisphenol S, an ingredient in many products bearing “BPA-free” labels, causes abnormal growth surges of neurons in an animal embryo. The same surges were also found with BPA (though not at the same levels); prompting researchers to suggest that all structurally similar compounds now used by plastic manufacturers are unsafe.
The study further states that the abnormal growth of brain cells observed in the embryonic Zebrafish specifically affected male hormones, potentially indicating why more boys than girls are diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.
Health Canada's ‘Updated Assessment of BPA Exposure from Food Sources’ found that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials. The American Chemistry Council issued the following statement on September 28, 2012:
"Health Canada's announcement today once again confirms that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials,” said Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D. of ACC's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, adding, "…this new assessment further indicates that consumers don't need to be concerned with the minute exposures to BPA from food contact and should be confident in its safe use in everyday consumer products."
“…humans are exposed to only trace levels of BPA through the diet, and it is well known that humans efficiently convert BPA to a substance with no known biological activity and quickly eliminate it from the body. Although the authors attribute great significance to their results, it would not be scientifically appropriate to draw any conclusions about human health based on this limited experiment,” said Hentges in response to the research findings at the University of Calgary.
Based on the overall evidence, experts concluded that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging use is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.
On July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially banned BPA in the manufacture of baby bottles and cups because environmental groups and parents voiced their profound concerns that BPA was interfering with children's development. Previous studies prompted Canada to ban the chemical’s use in baby bottles and phase out its use in baby food containers.
Health Canada states in their 2012 report, "BPA is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals in the market used today and has a safety track record for the past 50 years. The consensus of government agencies across the world is that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials. Not only has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently confirmed that it is very unlikely that BPA could cause human health effects but the European Food Safety Authority and World Health Organization panel have also supported the continued use of BPA in products that come in contact with food."
BPA, which mimics estrogen, has been associated with a rather vast range of heath conditions and diseases including obesity, neurological disorders, leukaemia, breast cancer, neuroblastoma, prostate cancer, impaired reproductive system, sexual dysfunction and brain tumours – but with no conclusive evidence.
Plastic containers, the lining of tin cans, coffee cup lids, pre-packaged salad containers, polycarbonate-bottled food and beverages and dental sealant all contain BPA. It can also be found in thermal paper used for bar codes and prescription labels.