Web Date: November 11, 2009
BPA Linked To Male Sexual Dysfunction
Male workers in China who were exposed to extremely high levels of the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) consistently had a higher risk of sexual dysfunction than unexposed workers, according to a study released on Nov. 10 (Human Reproduction, DOI:10.1093/humrep/dep381). The work provides some of the first evidence of health effects of BPA in humans and builds on animal studies that suggest BPA is an endocrine disrupter.
The study comes at a time when FDA is reevaluating the safety of BPA. The agency is expected to determine by the end of the month whether current exposures to BPA in food and beverage containers are safe.
The authors acknowledge that the levels of BPA in the exposed workers were 50 times higher than in the average person. "The observed association may only apply to highly exposed workers and a similar effect in environmentally exposed lower dose remains unclear," they write.
The American Chemistry Council—an industry trade group that includes BPA manufacturers—called the study interesting, but questioned its relevance to consumers because of the significant differences between occupational and consumer exposure. The group highlighted another study (Toxicological Sciences, DOI:10.1093/toxsci/kfp266) published in late October that found exposure to low levels of BPA had no effect on reproductive and behavioral activities; but that study was with rats.
The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that has been calling for a ban on BPA in food packaging for years, was troubled by the study because of the potential for BPA to impact adults, as well as children. "No one should assume that adults are exempt from damage inflicted by BPA. Certainly, protecting infants in development should be society's top priority. But we ignore impacts on adults at our peril," EWG Editor-in-Chief Elaine Shannon said in an email message to C&EN.
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