In 2014 and 2015 more stringent European standards for safe exposure of workers and consumers to bisphenol A (BPA) were proposed. RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment has concluded that new insights sufficiently warrant consideration of even more stringent standards and has recommended taking supplementary measures in the near future for a further reduction of BPA exposure. Recently there are indications that BPA at lower levels than previously thought, may impair the immune system of the unborn child, infants and young children.
New animal studies show that BPA can impair the immune system of the unborn child, infants and young children at a lower exposure level than the one on which the current standards are based. This lower level is roughly comparable to the current every day BPA exposure level of workers and consumers. As a result of this exposure during pregnancy and at young age, children could have a greater probability of developing food intolerances and could become more susceptible to infectious diseases.
Because BPA is used in a wide range of products all consumers are to some extent exposed to BPA. This exposure is generally below the existing European standard. Based on current consumer exposure to BPA and the applicable European standard, there are generally no expected adverse effects for consumers. Given recent indications that BPA can impair the immune system of unborn and young children at a lower exposure level than the one on which the current standards are based, protection of this group deserves special attention. The exposure of certain groups of patients and workers is sometimes above the current European standard, for example workers who work in a factory with BPA, or cashiers working in shops with cash receipts.
Patients can be exposed to BPA because BPA is used in some medical devices, such as infusion equipment, implants, catheters, and dental materials. As for consumers, exposure for patients is in general under the existing European standard. The European Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Risks concluded in 2015 in their evaluation of medical devices that the exposure to BPA may be above the European norm for preterm infants and young children undergoing long-term medical treatment, and in dialysis patients. Recent indications of possible adverse effects on the immune system due to exposure before birth and in the early years, give additional cause for concern for these groups.
BPA is found in all surface
water and sediment. Monitoring data show that the BPA exposure exceeds the present European
environmental standards for benthic organisms at several European
sites. The exposure to BPA remains
below the present European environmental standards for pelagic
organisms. Emissions of BPA to the
environment may result from its
manufacture, its use in a broad range of products or the recycling
and disposal of these products. More clarity on the contribution of
various sources of BPA to its
concentration in water and sediment is expected in the course of
Based on these new insights RIVM
advises to revisit the current European standards for safe exposure
and to reduce BPA exposure in the
short term wherever possible. Special attention needs to be devoted
to protecting small children, pregnant women and women who
breastfeed. This is because the developing unborn child, infants
and young children are more sensitive than adults to the effects of
Ways to reduce exposure include developing safe alternatives or ensuring that less BPA is released from products. Additionally, workers can be protected against BPA exposure.