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Why That Product With the 'BPA Free' Label Could Be Cause for Concern

New study finds that chemical used as BPA replacement may be just as harmful.

New research has cast doubts on whether an alternative to BPA presumed to be safe really is.  (Photo:  Waleed Alzuhair/flickr/cc)

A chemical used as an alternative to Bisphenol A (BPA) may be just as harmful, according to new research.

Scientists at the University of Calgary looked at BPA and its alternative, bisphenol S (BPS), and found that both could cause alterations in brain development in zebrafish.

Zebrafish are often used by researchers studying embryonic brain development because the fish share 80 percent of the genes found in humans.

"What we show is that the zebrafish exposed to BPA or BPS were getting twice as many neurons born too soon and about half as many neurons born later, so that will lead to problems in how the neurons connect and form circuits," stated Deborah Kurrasch, lead author and researcher in the university's Cumming School of Medicine.

With this increase in neurons generated in their developing brains, the exposed fish exhibited greater hyperactivity later in life, the researchers, whose findings were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found.

"I was actually very surprised at our results. This was a very, very, very low dose, so I didn't think using a dose this low could have any effect," Kurrasch stated.

University of Calgary researcher and study co-author Hamid Habibi stated, "Finding the mechanism linking low doses of BPA to adverse brain development and hyperactivity is almost like finding a smoking gun.


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Their findings, Kurrasch says, support getting rid of BPA and similar chemicals from consumer products, and add further evidence that pregnant women should avoid exposure to them.

But that could prove to be a difficult task. As Environmental Health News previously reported, BPS is widespread.

In the past several years, BPS has replaced BPA in the printing of thermal paper used for cash register receipts. Every thermal receipt tested in a study published last year contained BPS. [...]

Nearly everyone worldwide is exposed to BPS. Eighty-one percent of urine samples from eight different countries contained traces of it, according to a study published last year. In comparison, about 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine.

A study by researchers from the University of Texas published last year found that low levels of BPS were linked to the disruption of estrogen and were "cause for concern."

So why are these chemicals showing up on shelves in stores across the nation?

"A lot of the alternative chemicals have not been adequately tested because they don’t have to be," Kurrasch told the Washington Post. "A compound is considered safe (by the Food and Drug Administration) until proven otherwise."

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