For years, manufacturers have used the industrial chemical BPA, or bisphenol A,
to make polycarbonate plastic, epoxy resins, and other specialty materials.
Although BPA's effects on people remain unclear, health concerns about the
chemical have arisen because it weakly mimics the hormone estrogen.
Previous studies have shown that nearly all people have BPA in their urine,
likely from their diet. For workers who handle the chemical, the level of
exposure may be even higher. The United States currently has no occupational
exposure limits for BPA. After a study in China reported reproductive health
effects in factory workers who handled BPA, investigators at the US American
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) began studying
BPA exposure among U.S. manufacturing workers.
Now, a NIOSH study published in the Annals of Work Exposures and Health and the
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene is the first to report urine,
air, and skin exposure levels to BPA among these workers. The study found
urinary BPA levels comparable to the Chinese workers. These levels were 70
times higher, on average, in study participants than in U.S. adults surveyed by
CDC. In addition, nearly all air and hand wipe samples tested had detectable
levels of BPA.
BPA levels also varied by job. In an unexpected finding, the highest exposed
job was working with molten BPA-filled wax. Although, these workers did not
handle raw BPA, the chemical may have vaporized from the heated wax, the
investigators said. The lowest exposed job involved making a product in which
only trace amounts of BPA remain in the finished material.
Six companies using large quantities of BPA and 78 manufacturing workers
participated in the study. The companies included BPA producers and other
manufacturers of BPA-containing materials, including resin and wax. The
investigators collected urine, air, and hand wipe samples from workers over two
consecutive days in 2013-2014. The investigators found that BPA levels in
eating and office areas were lower than in production areas.
Investigators found that BPA levels in the studied workers could not be
explained by diet alone and likely occurred by inhaling BPA and touching
surfaces and objects with chemical residues. These and similar findings from
other studies show the importance of additional research into BPA exposure
among U.S. workers.
To reduce work-related exposure to BPA, NIOSH recommends several approaches:
- Eliminating BPA or, if possible, substituting other chemicals for BPA.
- Containing BPA dust and vapor emissions with engineering controls such as
full enclosures or local exhaust ventilation.
- Minimizing time spent in BPA-production areas.
- Cleaning surfaces regularly to remove BPA residues.
- Implementing a sampling program for BPA to evaluate the efficacy of controls.
- Using personal protective equipment, as a last resort.
AplusA-online.de - Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health