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Population exposure to the synthetic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used in everything from plastic and metal food containers to reusable water bottles and drinking water pipes in Europe is well above acceptable health safety levels, according to updated research data. This poses a potential health risk to millions of people, a European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing published today says.
The EEA briefing, based on data collected from an EU human biomonitoring study, found that up to 100% of the people taking part from 11 EU countries were likely exposed to the chemical above safe health thresholds. This raises significant health concerns for the wider EU population. The EEA briefing presents the latest information on human exposure to Bisphenol A, taking into account the recently concluded EU-funded human biomonitoring research project (HBM4EU). The briefing also highlights the potential health risks resulting from people exposed to unsafe levels of BPA.
Thanks to the EU’s groundbreaking human biomonitoring research project we are able to see that Bisphenol A poses a much more widespread risk to our health, than previously thought. We must take the results of this research seriously and take more action at EU level to limit the exposure to chemicals that pose a risk to the health of Europeans.
Impact of Bisphenol A on our health
The EU is increasingly concerned over the high-volume use of Bisphenol A in many consumer products and its impact on human health. People are exposed to BPA mainly through diet due to BPA being present in a range of plastics commonly used in packaging for food and beverages. In April the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) published its latest scientific opinion re-evaluating the risks to public health due to exposure to BPA. It also concluded that there is a current health concern from dietary BPA exposure, especially from canned food goods, which was found to be the most important exposure source for all age groups.
EFSA concludes that BPA can damage the human immune system at very low doses. This comes in addition to a number of previously discovered harmful effects on human health such as endocrine disruption, reduced fertility and allergic skin reactions.
The latest HBM4EU human biomonitoring data supports EFSA’s conclusion that there is a health concern for Europeans from exposure to BPA. Human biomonitoring provides actual measurements of total internal exposure resulting from multiple sources of exposure. The biomonitoring data on Bisphenol A levels in human urine show that exposure is still too high, despite the different regulatory measures that have been introduced since 2015.
More information on the human biomonitoring research
The European human biomonitoring project, HBM4EU, was conducted from January 2017 to June 2022. It generated Europe-wide, harmonised human biomonitoring data on the occurrence of chemicals in the European population and associated impacts on health.
Bisphenol A and two other bisphenols used as substitutes for BPA (bisphenol S and bisphenol F) were measured in urine from 2,756 adults from across 11 countries, namely Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland, representing north, east, south and west Europe. In the countries that participated in the biomonitoring for BPA, the level of exceedance varied between 71% and 100%. Population exposure to BPA in Europe is therefore too high and constitutes a potential health concern.
It should be noted that the limit of quantification of the analytical methods used to monitor BPA in human urine is above the human biomonitoring guidance value (HBM-GV). This means that the reported exceedances are minimum numbers; the probability exists that actually, all 11 countries have exceedance rates of 100% exposed above safe levels.
For more detailed information
- HBM4EU results on bisphenols are summarised in a policy brief
- EFSA April Scientific Opinion from April 2023