Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s, can be found in clear plastic bottles, containers that store food, eyeglass lenses, and sports equipment. Researchers have found that BPA mimics estrogen and can affect the body’s endocrine system, especially during rapid stages of growth like while in the womb and during childhood. BPA can affect anything from the reproductive health of both sexes, neurobehavioral problems, weight health, and the risk for hormonally mediated cancers, like prostate or breast cancer.

A preliminary study, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) annual meeting, found that women with the high levels of BPA in their blood were significantly more likely to miscarry than women with the low levels. Researchers involved in the study recruited 114 women who were in the early stages of pregnancy. The women’s blood was tested when they had miscarried in their first trimester or when they had given birth. The researchers then assigned the women into four groups based on their blood levels of BPA from lowest to highest to assess miscarriage risk. The women who had miscarried had higher levels of BPA on average than women who had given birth.  The risk rose with increasing levels of BPA with the women in the group with the highest levels of BPA at about 80% increased risk.

The director of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Division at Stanford University, and the study’s author, Dr. Ruth Lathi stresses that while this study is not a major cause for alarm, “it’s far from reassuring that BPA is safe.”

Dr. Linda Giudice, President of ASRM, commented on the study saying, “Many studies on the environmental contaminants’ impact on reproductive capacity have been focused on infertility patients and it is clear that high levels of exposure affect them negatively. These studies extend our observations to the general population and show that these chemicals are a cause for concern to all of us.”

While Canada and the European Union have banned the use of BPA, the United States has rejected an outright ban. The Food and Drug Administration has said that the current scientific evidence “does not suggest that the very low levels of human exposure to BPA through diet are unsafe.” However, the FDA has banned the chemical from baby bottles and infant feeding cups.

If you would like to reduce your exposure to BPA, scientists recommend avoiding plastics with recycle codes 3 or 7, like those used to make single serve plastic water bottles; avoid putting hot or boiling liquid into plastic containers, as BPA leak out of plastic materials at a higher rate at higher temperatures; and discard plastic bottles with scratches as they may contain bacteria that increases the release of BPA.  Here at Quench, we recommend switching your office drinking water cooler to a bottleless filtered water cooler – no 5-gallon plastic jug means no BPA in your water.