The US study, published today in PNAS Online, found the common consumer chemical, known as BPA, interfered with sex-cell formation and the development of ovaries in monkeys. Bisphenol A (BPA) is chemical compound in the plastic used in some food and drink packaging. It can be found in dozens of household items, including canned foods and soft drink, as well as water and baby’s bottles.
Researchers gave oral doses of BPA to pregnant rhesus monkeys to see whether it affected their babies’ reproductive organs during certain stages of pregnancy and found it did affect the cells that eventually become eggs in the mother’s unborn baby.
Monash University toxicologist Professor Brian Priestly said the study highlighted that even lower levels of BPA were damaging. “(The researchers) used doses which were thought to be comparable to the sorts of exposures humans get,” he said.
“Initial risk assessments suggest we could be exposed to a lot more BPA before we had any effects … but we now have to reconsider that.” But University of Adelaide senior lecturer Dr Ian Musgrave questioned the new findings and said further research was needed. “For most people, exposure to BPA is far below that used in these studies,” he said. Australian food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, continues to maintain there are no significant health risks from BPA in food packaging.
Despite this, Canada, the European Union and some states in America have banned the use of BPA in some products. A FSANZ spokeswoman said past studies and risk assessments do not indicate BPA presents a human health risk. She said the organisation would continue to support steps to reduce human exposure to BPA.
“For example, the packaging industry in Australia and New Zealand has introduced a voluntary phase-out of BPA use in polycarbonate baby bottles,” she said. Fernwood Fitness personal trainer Sarah Ebert, 39, said she used reusable chemical-free water bottles since reading about possible dangers. “You would think the manufacturers would be more concerned with society’s health,” she said.