Twenty years ago, researchers made the accidental discovery that the now infamous plastics ingredient known as bisphenol A or BPA had inadvertently leached out of plastic cages used to house female mice in the lab, causing a sudden increase in chromosomally abnormal eggs in the animals, Tasnim news agency reported on Saturday.
In 2003, while carrying out mouse studies unrelated to BPA, Patricia Hunt, a reproductive biologist at Washington State University in Pullman, and her colleagues found that the compound was leaching out of plastic cages housing female mice. Now, the same team is back to report in the journal Current Biology on September 13 that the array of alternative bisphenols now used to replace BPA in BPA-free bottles, cups, cages, and other items appear to come with similar problems for their mice.
There have been previous studies confirming that danger still prevails in BPA-free plastic, but this latest one may make consumers think twice about plastic products in general, BPA-free or not. The Washington Legislature has also limited its use. Hunt and her colleagues determined that the mice were being exposed to BPA replacements, which caused problems in the production of egg and sperm cells. The research suggests that exposure to chemicals used as alternatives to BPA have similar DNA-altering effects.
The study concludes that these "findings add to growing evidence of the biological risks posed by this class of chemicals". They tested these on lab mice to find problems of infertility among these animals. The genetic changes led to a reduction in viable sperm as well as an increase in abnormal eggs, Hunt found. "The ability of manufacturers to rapidly modify chemicals to produce structurally similar replacements undermines the ability of consumers to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals and federal efforts to regulate them". "The bad news is, if we're like mice, it would take generations".
"It's now becoming nearly impossible to run experiments without contamination", said Hunt, called the "accidental toxicologist" by Scientific American magazine.
The study wasn't exactly intentional. A germ line is like the canary in the coal mine.
Chemicals created to replace a cancer-causing chemical in plastics may itself damage the fertility of men and women, a new study warned. They then conducted subsequent studies to show how chromosomal abnormalities can persist for up to three generations.
The best way to avoid bisphenols is to stay away from plastics, particularly if they show signs of wear and tear. The chemical has been used since the 1960's according to the US Food and Drugs Administration (US FDA).
However, Hunt said the FDA studies use an old school of thought.
This isn't even the first time the study authors have stumbled upon BPA's effects in their labs. "But people like me go, look what it does to eggs, look what it does to the brain, look what it does to the heart, so there's been this big disconnect between these independent researchers and these big toxicology tests". This capacity that, amid fears it might perchance perchance ranking an heed on fertility amongst assorted things, its spend has in most cases been ceased in merchandise supposed for babies, while health-mindful adults customarily detect for BPA-free alternatives too.
Hunt recommends discontinuing use of any plastic product that show damage.