“BPA-free”: The Alternative May Be Just as Dangerous

Bisphenol A is a synthetic compound used in the manufacture of plastics, CDs, DVDs, thermal paper and other consumer goods.  BPA can mimic the hormone estrogen, leading several countries to ban its use in baby bottles.  BPA’s long-term effects on people are still unknown, so industries are trying to reduce or eliminate its use.

Many manufacturers now use Bisphenol S as an alternative, advertising their products as “BPA-free.”  Because BPS is less well known to consumers, they assume it is safer.  But BPS has been shown to have estrogenic activity similar to that of BPA.

Moreover, scientists recently found that both BPA and BPS cause alterations in embryonic brain development in zebrafish.  (Zebrafish have long been used to study embryonic brain development, as they have similar development processes and an 80-percent genetic counterpart to humans.)  When exposed to levels of BPS consistent with its current environmental presence, zebrafish developed hyperactivity and other behavioral changes.

Agilent equipment is being used to study BPA and BPS in the environment.  Scientists in Spain used an Agilent GC/MS to compare different methods for detecting bisphenols in food cans.  Scientists in the U.S. and China used an Agilent HPLC to detect BPS in paper products, including thermal receipts, paper money, newspapers and toilet paper.

An Agilent HPLC was also used by an international team of researchers to examine urine samples from the U.S. and seven Asian countries.  BPS was detected in 81 percent of the samples, with the highest concentrations in Japan, the U.S. and China.  There were no significant differences in BPS concentrations between different genders or age groups.

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