Work with BPA leads to enormous body load

Some workers who make or work with the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) have levels in their bodies 1,000 times higher than the general public, a study by a US government agency has found.

The research led by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found, on average, these workers had 70 times more of the chemical in their bodies than the general public, levels well above what has been shown to affect reproduction. BPA is also linked an increased risk of breast cancer and other health effects.

A total of 77 workers at six US companies that make BPA, BPA-resins or BPA-filled wax provided urine samples after two consecutive days at work. The average total BPA in their urine was 70 times higher than a study of US adults, according to findings published in the Annals of Work Exposures and Health.

One worker’s levels spiked up to 18,900 micrograms per gram of BPA at the end of the shift on the second day of work. The median level of BPA in the general public is a little less than 2 micrograms per gram.

NIOSH’s Cynthia Hines, lead author of the study, said there are no workplace exposure limits for BPA in the US. “If we clearly had an exposure level – for example something like lead – we’d go the extra measure to make them aware of their risk with those levels,” Hines said. “With BPA, we don’t have standards.”

She said the researchers did send general advice to the companies and workers on how to reduce exposure. Industry has argued that the body passes all accumulated BPA within a day, and so current exposures cause no harm. The federal study, which consistently showed higher levels after the second day of work, undercuts that argument.


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