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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

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Updated on 12/10/2017

Assessment of the hazards of bisphenol-group compounds

Toxicological profile and sector study of bisphenols other than bisphenol A

Keywords : Bisphenol A (BPA), Endocrine disruptors, Hazardous chemical substance substitution

At the request of the Ministry of Health, since 2009 the Agency has been conducting broad-scale expert appraisals on some thirty substances identified as Category 2 reprotoxic substances and/or endocrine disruptors for reproduction and fertility.The substances listed for an expert appraisal, in light of their potential endocrine-disrupting nature, included the bisphenols B and M, and bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE), in addition to bisphenol A. Moreover, as part of its search for potential substitutes for bisphenol A, the Agency decided it was relevant to investigate other compounds, such as bisphenol S, bisphenol AF and bisphenol AP. A specific report was thus produced to assess the potential hazards of these various substances and the possibility of conducting a health risk assessment. 

In the framework of the expert appraisal work it has been conducting since 2009 at the request of the Ministry of Health on the substances identified as Category 2 reprotoxic substances and/or endocrine disruptors, the Agency was tasked with assessing the potential hazards of a number of compounds in the bisphenols (or related) class: bisphenol A, bisphenol B, bisphenol M, BADGE, bisphenol S, bisphenol AF and bisphenol AP.

In order to assess the toxicity of each of these substances, in particular for the reproductive and endocrine functions, a review of the literature was conducted and epidemiological and experimental studies were analysed. The toxicological profiles prepared for these different compounds in the bisphenols (or related) class appear in the report "Reprotoxic substances and endocrine disruptors: Compounds in the bisphenols class: bisphenols M, S, B, AP, AF, F and BADGE" (ANSES 2013).

 

Conclusions

All the substances assessed share a common chemical structurewith the compounds of the class of bisphenols, which gives them oestrogenic properties, i.e., similar to those of oestrogens, which are hormones synthesised mainly by the ovaries and involved in regulating the menstrual cycle, pubertal development and subsequent maintenance of physical female characteristics, as well as during growth (formation and solidification of the bone matrix).

Particular care should therefore be exercised when using bisphenolsS, F, M, B, AP, AF and BADGE in certain areas. Indeed, the oestrogenic activity common to this class of compounds may be harmful to the consumer.

According to the conclusions of the toxicological profiles of the compounds tested, and subject to a more detailed analysis of their use, further studies are needed to assess their hazards in order to obtain more complete and comparable toxicological profiles. The Agency has therefore formulated research recommendations for each individual substance to complement the data on their toxicity.

Concerning the uses of these bisphenols, among the seven compounds analysed, three are potential substitutes for bisphenol A: BPS, BPF and bisphenol AP. 

According to ANSES's study report on alternatives to bisphenol A, these three compounds are used as substitutes for bisphenol A as developers in thermal paper. BPS is used as a starting monomer for the synthesis of polyethersulfone (PES), which is specifically used for the manufacture of infant feeding bottles and children's tableware. The other compounds (BPB, BPM, bisphenol AF and BADGE) were not identified in this report as substitutes for bisphenol A. The information gathered thus far suggests that BPB, BPM and bisphenol AF are used for the synthesis of polymers. For its part, BADGE is employed in the synthesis of certain epoxy resins that may be found in the internal coating of food containers.

 

Recommendations 

It is apparent from the work conducted by the Agency that the available toxicological data are insufficient for assessing the toxicity of bisphenols M, S, B, AP, AF, F and BADGE. Similarly, data on preparations and/or articles containing bisphenols M, B, S and BADGE, as well as those on potential environmental contamination caused by these compounds, are too fragmentary to enable the general population's exposure to be assessed. 

As a result, it is not possible to assess the health risks associated with the use of these compounds in consumer products, and the greatest care should therefore be exercised with regard to substitution by these compounds.

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