Commissioning Study to Address Chemical Found in Polycarbonate Plastics
and Epoxy Resins and Its Effects on Humans
November 2, 2009
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
announced last week that, as part of the funds it received through
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, it is commissioning
several researchers to study the health effects of the chemical
bisphenol A (BPA) on humans. The chemical is found mainly in polycarbonate
plastics, sometimes used in sidelites, and epoxy resins, according
"We know that many people are concerned about bisphenol A
and we want to support the best science we can to provide the answers,"
says Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., who serves as director of the NIEHS
and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an interagency program
for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Bringing
the key BPA researchers together at the onset of new funding will
maximize the impact of our expanded research effort."
In 2008, NTP and NIEHS concluded that there is evidence from animal
studies that BPA may be causing adverse effects, according to NIEHS,
but notes that it is uncertain whether the changes seen in the animal
studies would result in human health problems.
According to NIEHS, animal studies have shown that there is some
evidence linking BPA exposure with infertility, weight gain, behavioral
changes, early onset puberty, prostate and mammary gland cancer
and diabetes. For the newly funded research, two-year animal and
human studies will focus on either developmental exposure or adult
chronic exposures to low doses of BPA. Researchers will be looking
at a number of health effects including behavior, obesity, diabetes,
reproductive disorders, development of prostate, breast and uterine
cancer, asthma, cardiovascular diseases and transgenerational or
The use of polycarbonates in sidelites has grown in recent years,
particularly in high-end vehicles (CLICK
HERE for an in-depth look at polycarbonate sidelites from the
May/June 2008 issue of AGRR magazine.). Experts cite one
key benefit as the material's light weight, which provides fuel
"Without the support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act, we would not have been able to expand on this research that
is of such concern to so many people," adds Birnbaum. "Through
this effort we will be able to provide a better perspective of the
potential threat that exposure to bisphenol A poses to public health."
The researchers first met on October 6 at the NIEHS in Research
Triangle Park, N.C. The NIEHS received $14 million as part of the
ARRA to study BPA; its parent agency, the National Institute of
Health, received a total of $5 billion from the Obama administration.
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