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Bisphenol A: 6 Questions and Answers

Concerned about the plastic chemical bisphenol A? Read what the government and industry say.

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

What is bisphenol A?

Bisphenol A is a chemical found in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.

Polycarbonate plastics are used in certain food and drink packaging (including some water bottles and baby bottles) and also in compact discs, computers, impact-resistant safety equipment (such as helmets and goggles), and medical devices.

Polycarbonate plastics that contain bisphenol A usually have a No. 7 on the bottom, within the "chasing arrows" used to sort plastics for recycling, according to the National Institute on Environmental Health (NIEHS). But the American Chemistry Council, an industry group, strongly advises against using those recycling codes for any purpose other than sorting your recycling, since the numbers aren't about bisphenol A or other plastic chemicals.

Epoxy resins line metal products such as canned foods, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.

Is bisphenol A safe?

In a draft report, government scientists note "some concern" about bisphenol A's possible effects, based on lab tests in rodents. But that report isn't final, and the scientists aren't calling bisphenol A unsafe.