Study Shows BPA Has an Unexpected Effect on Embryos

BPA and fetus development
The unfolding story of BPA

The journal BMC Developmental Biology has published a study by French researchers that shows bisphenol A to have a surprising effect on vertebrate embryos.

A large body of research already tells us that BPA (in plastics, food packaging and more) has a likely effect on reproductive development, since it is considered an endocrine disrupter — interacting with the body’s hormone system.

That has especially poignant implications for pregnant women.

But the scientists conducting this study found BPA affected embryos in a way that had nothing to do with reproduction. Here’s what they found: 

The researchers exposed both xebrafish and frog embryos to BPA at increasing levels. As BPA went up, the embryos developed abnormalities in the inner ear — important for balance and hearing. By the time the exposure reached 15 mg/L (far above daily human exposure), all the vertebrate embryos showed ear defects.

This is an vertebrate study, so we can’t conclude that BPA effects human embryos the same way, but it definitely points to future study looking at this relationship.  This is one of the first studies to show that BPA can disrupt systems that have nothing to do with hormones.

I can’t help but feel frustrated when I read study after study about the potential toxic effects of BPA — how much money and time will we pour into this chemical before we decide if it’s toxic or not?  And why is the burden of proof on researchers after an ever-present chemical is already widely in use? The way we handle chemical safety seems backwards to me.

How do you feel about the barrage of BPA studies in recent years?

Image: flickr