Statistics Canada reports that 91 percent of the country’s population have a chemical known as Bisphenol A (BPA) in their urine. The agency said Monday’s report was the first time it has measured the level of Canadians’ exposure to BPA.
“The real value in this is … for the very first time (we) have baseline information against which we can study trends and track what is happening with respect to bisphenol A exposure,” said Tracey Bushnik, of Statscan’s Health Analysis Division, Reuters Canada reported.
BPA is used in the manufacture of baby bottles, water bottles, food and drink packaging, epoxy resins which line some metal products including canned foods, dental sealants, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses, and hundreds of other household goods. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BPA has been found in the urine of 93 percent of Americans tested.
Studies suggesting that low exposure levels early in life can affect development and behavior prompted Canada to announce plans to ban its use in baby bottles. Some consumer groups, citing research linking it to cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, are seeking greater restrictions.
Over the past decade, more than 130 studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, obesity and other disorders, reports the Washington Post. For example, JAMA reported in September 2008 that a study of BPA in humans found adults with higher levels of the chemical was associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities.
Recent research suggests that BPA has an effect at very low doses. One key finding by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, reported in 2008 that there is “some concern” BPA may affect the brain and behavioral development of fetuses, infants and young children.
The NTP’s finding prompted California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to reconsider the potential listing of BPA as a developmental and reproductive toxin, after a state expert panel in July 2009 found there was insufficient evidence for a listing, Prop 65 News reported.
The Statscan report is based on a two-year survey that measures levels of exposure among Canadians for more than 80 chemicals and environmental contaminants.
It found a mean concentration of 1.16 micrograms per liter in the urine of Canadians tested. Teenagers had the highest concentrations of BPA, while children between 6 and 11 had higher concentrations than adults over 40.
The report said the percentage of Canadians exposed to BPA points to “continual widespread exposure.”
“Cash register receipts are slathered in this stuff … and you absorb it through your skin,” said Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of advocacy group Environmental Defense and author of a book called “Slow death by rubber duck,” told Reuters Canada.
The Statistics Canada report also shows that lead levels in blood among Canadians have dramatically dropped since the last time a report was released. Thirty years ago, 27 percent of Canadians had concentrations higher than 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood while today it is less than one percent, according to Daily Tech.