Urgent health warning over toxic 'gender-bending' chemicals in food
Health chiefs have issued a fresh warning about the sky-high levels of toxic 'gender bending' chemical found in food and drink — saying millions are probably consuming too much.
Bisphenol A is found in swathes of water dispensers, food containers and reusable bottles because it makes plastics more flexible and harder to break.
But the 'gender-bending' chemical, also called BPA, mimics the female sex hormone oestrogen and has been linked to low sperm counts and infertility in men, as well as breast and prostate cancer.
EU officials have now said the current level of recommended BPA exposure via food and drink is 20,000 times too high.
Officials made this decision after reviewing 800 new studies.
This included one in mice that suggested high exposure to BPA could cause the immune system to mistakenly attack the body.
Concerns have raged for years about BPA leaking from packaging directly into food and drink and potentially damaging the body.
EU watchdogs previously ruled in 2015 that a safe daily exposure, through the small amounts leaking from plastic packaging, was 4 micrograms per kilogram of a person's body weight.
But experts from the bloc's European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have now revised this down to 0.2 nanograms per kilogram per day.
With a nanogram representing a billionth of a gram, this means the new safe figure is 20,000 times lower than the old limit.
EU experts estimated that all age groups are, on average, exceeding the safe BPA threshold 'by two to three orders of magnitude'.
Britain currently follows the old EU BPA safety level enacted in 2015, which carried over after Brexit.
These rules restricted the use of BPA in baby bottles as well as containers for infant formula both in the bloc and in Britain.
Dr Claude Lambré, chair of the EFSA's panel on food contact materials, enzymes and processing aids, said their analysis helped unpick BPA’s toxicity.
'In the studies, we observed an increase in the percentage of a type of white blood cell, called T helper, in the spleen,' he said.
'They play a key role in our cellular immune mechanisms and an increase of this kind could lead to the development of allergic lung inflammation and autoimmune disorders.'
The EFSA report says mice in which this effect was observed were exposed to a equivalent dose of a human having 8.2 nanograms of BPA per kilogram of weight per day.
EFSA experts also identified how BPA could have potentially harmful health effects on the reproductive, developmental and metabolic systems.
They noted that thanks to efforts brought in 2015 by EU legislators people's average exposure to BPA had likely been reduced, making their estimate of exposure levels 'conservative'.
France has already banned BPA use in all food packaging, containers, and utensils over health concerns.