Because toxicologists have raised concerns about bisphenol A’s hormone-disrupting properties, manufacturers have started using alternatives. Many BPA replacements are also bisphenols. Since the alternatives are structurally similar to BPA, scientists say they raise similar health concerns. Now researchers have detected two major BPA substitutes in the majority of indoor dust samples from four countries (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es302004w).
Kurunthachalam Kannan, an environmental chemist at the New York State Department of Health, and colleagues in China, South Korea, and Japan used high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry to analyze dust from homes, offices, and laboratories in their respective countries. They found that BPA was the most abundant bisphenol in dust, followed by bisphenol S, an alternative used in thermal receipts and baby bottles, and bisphenol F, which manufacturers use to line canned food and drinks.
Total concentrations of bisphenols in dust varied widely from 0.026 to 111 µg per g of dust, averaging 2.29 µg per g. BPA made up, on average, 65% of the bisphenol content. The researchers found the highest total bisphenol concentrations in South Korea and the lowest in China. In all countries, dust from offices had higher BPA concentrations than house dust did.
The researchers think that dust creates only a small fraction of human exposure to the bisphenol compounds, with diet producing far more exposure.
Scientists know little about the toxicity of BPA analogs, but Vandenberg says that all the bisphenols likely affect reproduction and brain development.