We might all need to buy new baby bottles. A new study by researchers at the University of Calgary has show for the first time that a widely used BPA substitute called BPS could have the same harmful health effects as the chemical we ditched. BPA-free might not mean squat.
"Bisphenol A", aka, BPA is a compound found in many polycarbonate plastics, like your old Nalgene water bottle. It's everywhere, and it's been linked, as the authors point out, to obesity, cancer and childhood neurological disorders. Study after study showed the chemical was harmful and so eventually, manufacturers relented and started using "bisphenol S", aka BPS, as a substitute. If you buy something that says "BPA-free" on it, there's a pretty good chance the manufacturer just swapped out BPS for BPA.
This would be a great triumph for consumers, except that now it seems that BPS is just as bad.
The Washington Post reports the findings study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which show that BPS has at least one unfortunate similarity to BPA in the way it affects Zebrafish. The study showed that caused the same "precocious" neurological behaviour in zebrafish larvae as BPA, indicating that the overall effect of BPA and BPS could be similar on humans. In particular, the affects could be similar on childhood neurological development.
So what's to be done? Well, it's clear that BPS hasn't been tested nearly enough. According to the authors, "These findings suggest that BPA-free products are not necessarily safe and support a societal push to remove all structurally similar bisphenol analogues and other compounds with endocrine-disruptive activity from consumer goods." In other words, let's switch to something else. Yeah, that seems reasonable. [PNAS via WaPo]