• Is BPS Just as Harmful to Humans as BPA?

Safety

Is BPS Just as Harmful to Humans as BPA?

Dec 08 2022

In 1891, a Russian laboratory technician synthesised bisphenol-A (BPA). In the century that followed, it became one of the building blocks of the plastics revolution. As such, it’s utterly ubiquitous; it can be found in, for example, plastic bottles, receipts, windows, glasses, cans, piping and a variety of toiletries. As you may already know, a wealth of research has demonstrated that BPA seeps into  food and beverages from packing and containers, as well as shedding into dust, inhalable particles and water. Alarm bells have been sounded over this frequent exposure, as repeated contact with BPA is correlated with a variety of illnesses, including an increased risk of infertility, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and asthma, as well as reduced liver, thyroid, brain, and immune functions. Due to the ever-mounting evidence of BPA’s toxicity, many manufacturers have invested in alternatives that they claim are significantly safer, such as bisphenol-S (BPS). 

This new compound is used most typically in the same polycarbonate plastics as its toxic cousin. The problem, however, is that it’s a little more closely related than was initially believed; since the industrial use of BPS has spiked, scientists have found that the chemical is almost exactly as harmful as BPA. One study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examining more than 1,200 participants found a positive correlation between the levels of BPS in a person’s urine and their risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in older adults aged 50 and above. 

In particular, researchers found a connection with coronary heart disease risk. "Although BPA, BPS and BPF share similar chemical properties, BPS and BPF are not safe alternatives for BPA," concluded the authors of the study. The findings of the study are consistent with previous scientific evidence regarding the effects of BPS on the human body – unsurprisingly, perhaps, given that BPA and BPS are almost identical as chemical compounds. 

Another study from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, demonstrated that bisphenol-S might negatively impact the functioning of the heart within just minutes. Apparently, it surprised even the researchers. "We expected to find similar effects from BPS as we have with BPA, but not at the speed that it worked," Glen Pyle, Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Guelph and a co-author of the study, told reporters. As a result of these findings, the authors added that those with pre-existing heart conditions are, of course, especially vulnerable, as even small levels of exposure to BPS can raise the probability of a heart attack or, at least, enhance its severity.  

As previously mentioned, these sorts of connections are not new; the University of Guelph’s study only demonstrated that the negative effects of BPS are produced faster than was previously understood. Yet, despite widespread concerns about the dangers of BPS, there has been very little regulatory action in North America – in fact, leading institutions like the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) in the United States have yet to revise their position that BPA is “safe at the current levels occurring in foods.” In Europe, on the other hand, the situation is quite different, as the European Union recently took an axe to its recommendation on daily exposure to BPA, rendering it effectively illegal for the compound to be used in any material that touches food or drink, as well as explicitly banning its use in products intended for infants younger than three. 


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