Tag Archives: BPA



On Wednesday November 9, 2011 UVA Green Chemistry hosted AGC’s Mana Sassanpour for a lecture and discussion on “What is Green Chemistry?”

Mana gave an overview of green chemistry, Paul Anastas and John Warner’s 12 principles of green chemistry, followed by a description of Advancing Green Chemistry’s involvement in the field.

Mana: “The discussion that followed after the lecture was phenomenal! Almost everyone who attended the lecture asked a question. I had never seen such an involved group of students!”

We started off discussing endocrine disrupting chemicals, for example: bisphenol A (BPA). What exposure level is safe? Really large amounts are harmful, but so are really tiny amounts  – the correlation is not linear. We proceeded to discuss how we could test compounds for toxicity if the correlation is not linear. This led to a discussion on general methods for testing for toxicity, what the current standards are and how we could do better. We discussed the ethical concerns around animal testing and other tools.

The students were curious to find out what some of the common sources of BPA exposure are, and were surprised to find out that it is found in many disposable water bottles and plastic containers. A concerned student then asked for advice on how to avoid BPA. The response was: don’t use plastic food containers – but if you do, definitely do not microwave food in them because that allows the BPA and other contaminants to leach into your food. Store food in glass jars instead.

The ladies in the crowd then opened a discussion on cosmetics. Like many, they had never considered the chemicals in their beauty products. We talked about how many chapsticks and lip balms have oxybenzone in them – a component that acts as a sunscreen but is also a carcinogen. Most girls in the room immediately reached for their chapsticks to look at ingredients. A hand darted up to ask me “My chapstick has 6% oxybenzone – should I throw it away?” From this topic we went on to discuss how many sunscreen components do not degrade and go into our rivers and affect the reproductive anatomy of frogs and fish. This then led to how effects on amphibians predict effects on humans.

Needless to say, the conversation was great – filled with great facts, questions, and laughs!

Hitting the Bottle.

New York Times
Published: May 8, 2011

SUDDENLY, there’s a baby boom going on around me. I’m making weekly shopping trips to stock friends’ nurseries, and I’m struck by how many signs on the shelves advertise BPA-free bottles, BPA-free sippy cups. It breaks my heart. Manufacturers might be removing BPA, a chemical used to harden certain plastics, from their products, but they are substituting chemicals that may be just as dangerous, if not more so.

Read original post here.

Newly identified chemicals leach into food packages, pose regulatory challenge.

Synopsis by Emily Barrett
— last modified Feb 07, 2011 09:25 AM

Muncke, J. Endocrine disrupting chemicals and other substances of concern in food contact materials: An updated review of exposure, effect and risk assessment. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2010.10.004.

It is well-known that eating fresh fruits and vegetables can reduce extra fat, salt and calories; but now there are additional reasons to choose fresh foods over processed ones.

Increasingly, evidence shows that the plastics and wrappers used for packaging can inadvertently leach unwanted chemicals into food. Several recent studies found high levels of bisphenol A – an environmental chemical that can disrupt hormonal processes – in canned foods and in packaged foods for people and pets.

Now, another study suggests that the problems go far beyond just one culprit or one health effect. Among the many toxic chemicals that can migrate from packaging into food are the endocrine disrupting phthalates and organotins and the carcinogen benzophenone. These compounds are heavily used in food packaging and have known health effects, yet are not routinely tested or regulated in food.

Although some regulations exist to guarantee safe food packaging, the current system does not address concerns posed by endocrine disrupting chemicals. The associated health effects of exposure to hormone altering compounds are many and varied, including immune disfunction, metabolic disorders (diabetes, thyroid) and reproductive problems.

A number of other notable regulatory flaws include not testing mixtures and a lack of understanding of different effects on different populations – from children to developing fetus to adults to the elderly.

Currently, chemical toxicity tests are only required when compounds reach certain levels in food. In the U.S., it is 0.5 parts per billion (ppb) for general toxicity and 1 ppm for reproductive toxicity.

The guidelines, though, do not consider the collective numbers and toxicity – alone or in combination – of all of the chemicals that can leach from the packaging. In a chemical mix, individual health effects may be magnified. Printing, ink, adhesives, recycled cardboard and the plastic containers can all introduce unwanted chemicals into a single food product, creating a mix with additive or synergystic effects. What’s more, the chemicals may degrade over time or form new compounds that migrate into food. These can go entirely unmeasured since it is nearly impossible to identify and test for them all.

Kids may be at particular risk. Not only are their bodies still developing and hence susceptible to environmental insults, but they tend to eat more packaged foods, a more limited diet and more food for their body weight than adults do. There are similar concerns for pregnant women and their fetuses, as well as obese adults, whose bodies may process these chemicals differently from their trimmer counterparts.

More stringent and broader regulations as well as testing programs may be necessary to further identify and reduce exposures – especially in children and women of reproductive age – to a broad swath of chemicals found in canned, packaged and other processed food.

See original post in Environmental Health Sciences

BPA: What’s the alternative?

Posted by Evan Beach at Nov 12, 2010 03:30 PM | Permalink

Science News and other outlets reporting on BPA-free receipts identify for the first time a substitute chemical being used by one of the largest manufacturers of thermal paper. It has been referred to incorrectly in blogs as “bisphenol sulfonate” or “diphenyl sulfone,” but it is actually a chemical known as bisphenol S (Update, 11/15/10: 4,4′-sulfonylbisphenol). As the name indicates, it is structurally very similar to bisphenol A (BPA). And although it has not been studied as much as BPA, preliminary studies show that it shares hormone-mimicking properties as well.

In 2005, a group of Japanese scientists compared BPA and 19 other related compounds for their ability to mimic the female hormone estrogen. They tested the effects on human cells and found that bisphenol S was slightly less potent than BPA, but not by much: bisphenol S was active at 1.1 micromolar concentration, BPA at 0.63 micromolar. One micromolar is roughly equivalent to a packet of sugar in 3,000 gallons of water.

Other researchers have found that bisphenol S is much less biodegradable than BPA. In their study of eight bisphenol compounds, bisphenol S was the most persistent.

While much more is known about the effects of BPA – particularly at ultra-low doses – the existing data on bisphenol S suggests the substitution should be made with caution. Hormone-mimicking behavior and environmental persistence are intrinsic hazards that should be avoided. As the Science News story mentions, an assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment program may shine more light on the matter.

Which companies are banishing BPA in food packaging?


Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

Our government may not have done much to ban or regulate the use of BPA in our food packaging, but apparently, some companies are taking the initiative to banish BPA.

These companies aren’t just the mom-and-pop home kitchen jam shops or smaller eco-friendly food companies. Biggies like Hain Celestial, ConAgra, and H.J. Heinz all got A’s for their leadership in getting BPA out of their packaging.

Who awarded these grades? That would be Green Century Capital Management, an investment advisory firm that administrates the Green Century Funds, a family of environmentally responsible mutual funds. Green Century recently released a report, Seeking Safer Packaging (www.greencentury.com/bpareport2010.pdf), that grades companies on their BPA-related actions and initiatives.

But before you open that can of Chef Boyardee (owned by ConAgra), be aware that an A grade doesn’t mean the company’s products are BPA-free. To get an A, companies only need to have started phasing BPA out of SOME of their packaging while also committing to a concrete timeline for phasing out all the BPA.

Do you think Green Century graded on a curve? Perhaps the A’s were generous, but keep in mind that most of the companies Green Century graded were total flunkies. Coca-Cola, Del Monte, Kraft, Unilever, Kroger, Safeway, Supervalu and Wal-Mart all scored F’s. According to Green Century’s report, “Most of these companies are exploring substitutes for BPA to some degree but do not commit to phasing out the chemical, are not funding the exploration of substitutes, and fail to sufficiently disclose information about how they are addressing consumer concern on the issue.”

Somewhat surprising may be Whole Foods’ D+ grade for its private label brand – the same grade as less green-tinted companies Kellogg and Dean’s Foods. However, that D+ still put Whole Foods in the top spot among retailers! The report says Whole Foods has “good transparency” on its BPA policies – “but has not demonstrated that it is actively testing any BPA-free options for its private-label cans despite a commitment to eliminate the chemical from packaging.”

I have my Roth IRA with Green Century – though ashamed to admit I haven’t contributed any green to it in years! I am, however, proud that this BPA report doesn’t worry me as much as it would have several years ago – because I’ve since pretty much phased out canned food from my life.

And Green Century: As an account holder, I’d like to request that you look into another BPA issue next: BPA on cash register receipts.

If you’re wondering about the methodology behind the grading system, there’s an explanation on page 13 from the link above, if you’re interested.

Siel Ju is a Hollywood socialite with a Ph.D., who blogs about health, beauty and life at www.mnn.com/featured-blogs/greenliving.

Related Content

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/08/1914829/which-companies-are-banishing.html#ixzz14tp6e6sW

Soy plastics targeted for electronic circuit boards.

Zhan, M and RP Wool. 2010. Biobased composite resins design for electronic materials. Journal of Applied Polymer Chemistry 118:3274-3283.

Synopsis by Evan Beach
New materials made from soybean oil have excellent electronic properties and offer a low-carbon-footprint alternative to conventional plastics that are used in printed circuit boards.

Soybean oil can be mixed with conventional chemicals and converted into a strong, rigid plastic that could be used for high-speed, energy-efficient, electrical components, report researchers at the University of Delaware.

The greasy liquid could provide a cheap, abundant and renewable alternative to some of the plastics, resins and other petroleum-based materials now used to make the parts. The use of renewable ingredients in the new plastics may reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow depletion of petroleum resources. In principle, other plant oils besides soy would work in the same way.

One target area for the new plastic is circuit boards – the internal units that relay signals in computers, radios and other electronics. They are often made from materials called epoxy resins, a family of plastics that frequently rely on bisphenol A (BPA) for stiffness. BPA is known to interact with the hormone system, most famously as an estrogen. The use of BPA has raised health concerns over harmful effects seen in animals at low doses. Human exposure is widespread and studies suggest the chemical may contribute to obesity, behavior problems and altered fertility and reproduction in people.

The researchers wanted to modify soybean oil so the individual oil molecules would create a chain and the other added ingredients would lend rigidity. They mathematically predicted that structures similar to benzene – six carbon atoms linked together in a planar ring – would give the desired properties. Bisphenol A, for example, contains two benzene rings in its structure.

The researchers manufactured the soybean-based material to validate the theory. A key ingredient needed was phthalic anhydride, which is best known as a raw material for phthalate plasticizers that are used in a variety of products and have been linked to health effects in animal studies. At levels of 10 – 20 percent, it improved both the mechanical and electrical properties of the soy-based plastics.

All of the soy-based materials had lower dielectric constants than epoxy resins – about 3.6 to 3.8 compared to 4.2 to 4.7. A low dielectric constant is important for high signal speed and low “crosstalk” of signals between lines in a circuit. The materials also have very low dissipation factors – a measure indicating that circuits could operate using less power.

Further research is needed to improve the environmental impacts of the soy plastics. It would be ideal to progress away from adding chemicals such as phthalic anhydride that have known health effects and moving toward a 100 percent biobased material. More benign sources of benzene ring structures also should be considered.

2010 Heinz Awards announced

By Elizabeth Weise

This year’s Heinz Family Foundation awards include honors for a scientist documenting the effects of endocrine disruptors, a champion on the global seed vault and one of the giants in the field of ‘green,’ or non-toxic, chemistry.

The awards come with an unrestricted cash prize of $100,000. They recognize outstanding individuals for their contributions in the areas of Arts and Humanities, the Environment, the Human Condition, Public Policy, and Technology, the Economy and Employment. They were established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz.

This year’s winners include:

James Balog with icebergs at Ilulissat Isfjord, UNESCO World Heritage site. By Adam LeWinter, Adam LeWinter

James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey (Boulder, Colo.)

For his dramatic use of photography to document the devastation of global warming. James Balog, a former skeptic of global warming, is honored for his pioneering photographic documentation of the effects of global warming worldwide. Using materials from his local hardware store, he adapted 39 Nikon cameras to take photos of glaciers around the world each hour of daylight. More than 500,000 photographs from his Extreme Ice Survey illustrate the evidence of global warming over time, providing scientists with vital insight on glacial retreat.

Frederick vom Saal. Curators’ Professor Division of Biological Sciences · College of Arts & Science. Rutgers University. By L.G. Patterson

Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., University of Missouri (Columbia, Mo.)

For uncovering health problems linked to the chemical BPA. Building upon an already distinguished career in basic reproductive biology, vom Saal discovered unexpected health problems linked to exposure to common chemicals in every day products such as bisphenol A (BPA), a widely-used ingredient in consumer products. Vom Saal’s work has been crucial to opening new questions about many chemicals in widespread use, which had been thought safe based on traditional methods used in toxicology. His research challenges health agencies around the world to use 21st century biomedical science in assessing the risks posed by environmental chemicals.

Cary Fowler, Global Crop Diversity Trust. By Heinz Family Foundation.

For establishing the Global Seed Vault to conserve genetic diversity of the world’s food plants despite climate change. Raised in Tennessee, Fowler developed a love for agriculture that shaped his acute awareness of the importance of crop diversity. His work emphasizes that a lack in plant population diversity weakens food security. His efforts to conserve crop diversity, including the development of the Global Seed Vault — holding one-third of the world’s seed varieties — are critical to preserving crop diversity as factors such as climate change and natural disasters threaten agriculture and its ability to feed humanity in the future.

Terry Collins is the Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University where he directs the Institute for Green Science. By Heinz Family Foundation

Terrence Collins, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pa.)

For using “green chemistry” to detoxify hazardous chemicals and training the next generation of scientists.Collins has a distinguished and unquenchable passion for training the next generation of scientists to combine the tools of chemistry with the knowledge of environmental health science so their work will reduce the use and generation of hazardous substances. A professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Green Science, Collins and his research group have played a crucial role in inventing safe, sustainable ways to mitigate toxic waste and biological agents including anthrax.

Gretchen Daily, Ph.D.,Stanford University and the Natural Capital Project (Stanford, Calif.)

For her achievements demonstrating the financial value of natural ecosystems, which include climate stability, flood control, water purification, pollination and production of food. Daily has shown important and unique global leadership in creating new tools and approaches for estimating the economic value of conservation, and for implementing these in key demonstrations around the world. With the Natural Capital Project, she has co-developed InVEST, a computer software program helping decision makers identify ecological assets with the highest financial value. Daily’s current work in China is helping to inform a $100 billion investment in conservation, over 25 percent of the country’s land area, to harmonize conservation and human development.

Daniel Sperling, Ph.D., University of California, Davis (Davis, Calif.)

For advancing sustainable transportation policies and accelerating the transition to low-carbon alternative fuels nationwide. Sperling has made significant contributions to revolutionize transportation and energy research through a unique academic approach that merges research, policy studies and entrepreneurship in pursuit of clean, equitable transportation options. A professor and founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, Sperling was instrumental in the passage of California’s groundbreaking Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the first major regulation built on the concept of measuring greenhouse gases over a product or fuel’s lifecycle, from production to end use. Sperling’s most recent book, Two Billion Cars, has received international acclaim and demonstrates his ability to communicate complex topics in a way that touches people and moves them to action.

New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert. By Nicholas Whitman

Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, (Williamstown, Mass.)

For her groundbreaking environmental journalism and devotion to informing readers. Elizabeth Kolbert is honored for her steadfast, creative and challenging journalistic explorations of important environmental issues that are central to global change. Time and again she has written about key global issues of the day, in media outlets such as The New Yorker as well as in books. Ms. Kolbert’s investigations go beyond traditional reporting — even raising a hive of bees in her backyard to better understand their habits for a story about their mysterious disappearance. Her skill for providing readers with intriguing narrative generates intense interest, grabs national attention and has inspired a movie.

Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. By Heinz Family Foundation

Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D., Princeton University (Princeton, N.J. and New York, N.Y.)

For assessing the impacts of global warming and air pollution, and working for policies to prevent future harm. Oppenheimer is honored for his leadership in assessing the impacts of climate change and air pollution, as well as promoting policies to prevent future harm. Long before global warming reached global prominence, he drew international attention to the issue by co-organizing workshops that helped precipitate the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton, Oppenheimer was formerly chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund for 21 years. He is currently a lead coordinating author of the fifth IPCC assessment as well as on a special report on climate extremes and disasters.

Richard A. Feely, an oceanographer, directs the Marine Carbon Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. By Heinz Family Foundation

Richard Feely, Ph.D.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (Seattle, Wash.)

For his extraordinary efforts in identifying ocean acidity as global warming’s “evil twin.” Studying the world’s oceans since 1974, Feely is recognized by the Heinz Awards for his extensive study of ocean acidification caused by rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Logging over 1,000 days at sea and over 50 scientific expeditions, Feely’s startling discoveries prove acidity levels are rising fast and represent a major challenge to the health of the ocean’s food web. Throughout his career, Feely has promoted improvements in public policy to protect oceans and marine ecosystems. His research documenting the pace and extent of acidification have brought this issue world-wide attention and forced recognition of the fact that policy measures that only address global warming will fail to fully confront global change.

Lynn Goldman, Johns Hopkins National Children’s Study Center. By Marissa Rauch

Lynn Goldman, M.D., George Washington University (Washington, D.C. and Silver Spring, Md.)

For promoting regulation of dangerous chemicals and expanding citizens’ right to know about pollution in their communities. As a pediatrician and epidemiologist, she saw children with preventable infectious diseases and lead poisoning and it inspired her to research and develop programs to stop negative health effects caused by chemical contaminants. Appointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she strengthened regulation on pesticides and toxic substances and expanded citizens’ right-to-know about pollution in their communities. Returning to academia after government service, she has carried out groundbreaking research on how chemicals affect newborn children. In August, she became dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University, a position that will enhance her ability to protect public health.

See original article in USA Today

Article misleads on BPA alternatives.

By Laura Vandenberg Aug 02, 2010 06:00 AM | Permalink

In reviewing a proposed bill to ban BPA from food and beverage containers, a San Francisco Chronicle article presents a one-sided view of available alternatives.

San Francisco Chronicle article describes efforts by U.S. Representative Dianne Feinstein to pass a bill banning bisphenol A (BPA) from food and beverage containers. Unfortunately, the reporter relies on information provided by industry officials to explain the availability of BPA-free alternatives. This one-sided approach misinforms readers.

Reporter Carolyn Lochhead states that “With no viable alternative for can liners, an immediate ban would be equivalent to banning canned foods.” An industry spokesman adds that “banning [BPA] would make food less safe because there is no viable alternative to line cans and jars.”

These statements stretch the truth. There are, in fact, food cans on the market without BPA in their epoxy linings. Some BPA-free cans are made with a vegetable-based lining that was used by the canning industry before the switch to BPA-based resins. These have been used for more than a decade.

Lochhead interviewed only a few sources for her story: Representative Feinstein; a U.S. Food and Drug Administration representative; and the director of the American Chemistry Council, an industry lobbying group. The important voice that is missing is an independent scientist. A scientist who works on BPA could have pointed out the alternative cans that exist and provided better accuracy in reporting the effects of BPA on animals and humans.

Human exposure to BPA is widespread through food can linings, polycarbonate plastics, some thermal papers and dental sealants, among other sources. A 2008 study by the US CDC showed that almost everyone has this chemical in their bodies. Reducing or eliminating BPA in consumer products can have a significant impact on human exposures. A 2003 study found that BPA levels in urine collected from Japanese college students in 1999 dropped compared to levels measured from similar students in 1992. During this period of time, the authors report that some can linings were changed from a BPA-based resin to a lining that eliminated or reduced the use of BPA.

BPA has been linked to numerous adverse health effects in exposed animals, including malformations of the male and female reproductive tract, changes in the development of the brain, alterations in the immune system, development of prostate and mammary cancers, and changes in behavior, among others. BPA studies in humans, while limited, also suggest that this chemical could have adverse health effects.

Concentration of bisphenol A in thermal paper.

Authors: Ted Menduma; Emily Stolera; Helen VanBenschotena; John C. Warnera


Bisphenol A (BPA) is widely used as a color developer in thermal paper. Thermal paper is ubiquitous in daily life due to its use in cash register receipts, so opportunities for human contact abound. For this study, 10 blank cash register receipts were obtained from businesses in suburban Boston. BPA was extracted and analysis of concentration was performed using gas chromatograph/flame ionization detector. In some receipts, BPA was not detected but in others it was as high as 19 mg for a 12-inch long receipt, which is in line with concentrations indicated in patents. This study is intended to highlight the potential for human exposure to BPA as well as the ease with which exposure may be reduced through the use of BPA-free thermal paper.

BADGE, made from BPA, reacts with food.

BADGE, made from BPA, reacts with food.

Jul 19, 2010

Coulier, L, EL Bradley, RC Bas, KCM Verhoeck, M Driffield, N Harmer and L Castle  2010.  Analysis of reaction products of food contaminants and ingredients: Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE) in canned foods. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 58:4873-4882.

Synopsis by Evan Beach

Leftover residues of a compound made from bisphenol A (BPA) for use in food can linings reacts with sugars, proteins and other parts of food to form new molecules, researchers report.


A main component of food can linings forms new chemicals when it reacts with different parts of food, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

BADGE – which is short for bisphenol A diglycidyl ether – is manfactured from bisphenol A and is a building block of certain types of resins that coat food and drink cans. Like its parent compound, BADGE has endocrine disrupting properties.

The researchers from The Netherlands and Great Britain found that BADGE residue left over from manufacturing of the can coating can react with sugars, proteins and other small molecules – for example ethanol in beer.

The findings show how critical it is to understand the extent of chemical migration from resin linings into the can’s contents and what happens to the compounds once they interact with the food and beverage.

This is important because of the implications for food safety. The European Union bases its regulations for how much BADGE can migrate from food primarily on the reaction between BADGE and water.

However, the study’s authors found that the BADGE-water reaction only accounted for as much as 26 percent of the “disappearing” BADGE  they added to samples of canned tuna, apple puree and beer. Some of the remaining BADGE could be detected as BADGE-glucose and BADGE-amino acid reaction products. Even when the additional BADGE products were considered, it was still not possible to account for all of the BADGE added to the food.

The researchers suspect that BADGE can form products with larger, high-molecular-weight carbohydrates, fibers and proteins that would be difficult to detect directly with the methods they used. This was the case for proteins. When the authors mixed BADGE with insulin, a large protein, the BADGE was effectively invisible. But when they broke down the protein into its component parts, then the BADGE products could be detected.

Although large molecules like the insulin-BADGE product would probably be too large to be absorbed by the body at first, it is possible that after they break down into smaller molecules in the stomach, then exposure to BADGE would be likely.

The BPA-like chemical backbone of BADGE was not changed by reactions with food molecules. The authors did not discuss whether the structural similarity of these products to BADGE and BPA might lead to similar harmful effects attributed to BPA or if the BADGE products might be related to levels of BPA that have been detected in most of the U.S. population.

For the study, BADGE was added to two types of canned food – tuna in sunflower oil and apple puree – and three drinks – an ale, a stout, and a lager. Spiked and nonspiked controls were recanned, homogenized and then analyzed three weeks later using liquid chromotagraphy.