Once again, research shows that "BPA-free" plastic does not mean it is safer than BPA plastic. Both BPA and BPS (the usual replacement for BPA) leach estrogenic chemicals into the foods and beverages, which means negative health effects when ingested. Both BPA and BPS mimic the effects of estrogen, as well as the actions of thyroid hormone. Yes, this study was done on zebrafish, but think of them as "the canaries in the mine" - if it affects them, it could affect humans also, especially developing fetuses and young children.
BPA and BPS can leach into food, particularly under heat, from the lining of cans and from consumer products such as water bottles, baby bottles, food-storage containers, sippy cups, and plastic tableware. BPA can also be found in contact lenses, eyeglass lenses, compact discs, water-supply pipes, some cash register and ATM receipts, as well as in some dental sealants. A good way to minimize exposure to BPA , BPS, and other estrogenic chemicals is to try to avoid food and beverages in plastic containers and cans, but instead try to buy and store food in glass containers, jars, and bottles. From Science Daily:
Companies advertise "BPA-free" as a safer version of plastic products ranging from water bottles to sippy cups to toys. Many manufacturers stopped used Bisphenol A to strengthen plastic after animal studies linked it to early puberty and a rise in breast and prostate cancers.Yet new UCLA research demonstrates that BPS (Bisphenol S), a common replacement for BPA, speeds up embryonic development and disrupts the reproductive system.
Using a zebrafish model, Wayne and her colleagues found that exposure to low levels of BPA and BPS -- equivalent to the traces found in polluted river waters -- altered the animals' physiology at the embryonic stage in as quickly as 25 hours. "Egg hatching time accelerated, leading to the fish equivalent of premature birth," said Wayne, who is also UCLA's associate vice chancellor for research. "The embryos developed much faster than normal in the presence of BPA or BPS."
The UCLA team, which included first author Wenhui Qiu, a visiting graduate student from Shanghai University, chose to conduct the study in zebrafish because their transparent embryos make it possible to "watch" cell growth as it occurs.... In a second finding, the team discovered that the number of endocrine neurons increased up to 40 percent, suggesting that BPA overstimulates the reproductive system.... "We saw many of these same effects with BPS found in BPA-free products. BPS is not harmless."
After uncovering her first finding about BPA in 2008, Wayne immediately discarded all of the plastic food containers in her home and replaced them with glass. She and her family purchase food and drinks packaged in glass whenever possible. "Our findings are frightening and important," emphasized Wayne. "Consider it the aquatic version of the canary in the coal mine."
Finally, the researchers were surprised to find that both BPA and BPS acted partly through an estrogen system and partly through a thyroid hormone system to exert their effects. "Most people think of BPA as mimicking the effects of estrogen. But our work shows that it also mimics the actions of thyroid hormone," said Wayne. "Because of thyroid hormone's important influence on brain development during gestation, our work holds important implications for general embryonic and fetal development, including in humans."
Researchers have proposed that endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be contributing to the U.S.' rise in premature human births and early onset of puberty over the past couple of decades. "Our data support that hypothesis," said Wayne. "If BPA is impacting a wide variety of animal species, then it's likely to be affecting human health. Our study is the latest to help show this with BPA and now with BPS."