Study: BPA Exposure May Have Long-Lasting Effects

by Chris Curley on June 19, 2012

BPA-free water bottles

Low-dose exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) — a compound found in many plastic water bottles, food containers, and the plastic lining of canned goods — may cause brain and behavioral changes affecting multiple generations, a new study shows.

The offspring of female mice that had been exposed to the equivalent of low-dose human levels of BPA were less social than mice that had no BPA exposure, researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the University of Missouri found. Prenatal BPA exposure has been linked to increased anxiety, aggression, and mental impairments in mice, which many studies suggest may lead to similar effects in humans.

While the first generation of mice showed the biggest socialization changes associated with BPA, difficulties persisted as far along as the fourth generation, the researchers say.

Over 90 percent of Americans have measurable amounts of BPA in their bloodstreams, according to one recent study. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) has called for a ban on BPA in food and beverage packaging, while companies like Campbell’s have taken a proactive stance, vowing to rid their products of BPA in the near future.

Those actions can’t come soon enough, suggests study corresponding author Emilie Rissman, Ph.D., of University of Virginia School of Medicine. “If we banned BPA tomorrow, pulled all products with BPA in them, and cleaned up all landfills tomorrow it is possible, if the mice data generalize to humans, then we will still have effects of this compound for many generations,” she says.

The study appears online in the journal Endocrinology.

(Photo © Rubbermaid Products via Flickr)