Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical, which is among the most common chemicals used in the production of materials such as poly-carbonate plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is produced in large quantities, in order to be used in the manufacturing of products such as computer parts, rugs and carpets, fabric furniture, vehicle paint and flame-proof materials. BPA became known to the general public when it was shown through significant scientific research that the chemical can leach out of plastic bottles and cans, and therefore end up contaminating our food and drink items (Braunrath et al., 2005). The fact BPA has been detected in human tissues, blood and urine, as well as environmental samples, shows its ability to infiltrate our ecosystem. Studies have shown the impacts that BPA can have on animals, both in vitro, in vivo and also wild animals. Impacts on humans are relatively unknown, due to the practical and ethical implications of experimentation. The prospective effects of climate change on the environmental, as well as epidemiological impacts of BPA will be researched and determined.
BPA has been shown in a number of studies to have detrimental health effects on a variety of animals, as well as humans. One such study has shown that BPA has the potential to effect metabolic rates and may be linked to obesity in children (Bhandari et al., 2013), as well as insulin production in adults (Alonso-Magdalena et al., 2011). There have also been studies and research that show BPA may be linked with health issues such as the increase of estrogen in the body (Alonso-Magdalena et al., 2012), thyroid hormone action (Kashiwagi et al., 2009) and neurobehavioral issues (Palanza et al., 2008).
BPA has also been linked in a recent study to behavioral problems in children, and can cause issues such as anxiety, depression, aggression and hyperactivity in young children (Ejaredar et al, 2017). The dopaminergic system has also been shown to be affected by the presence of BPA, and can affect dopamine activity, which can result in hyperactivity, attention issues and an increased sensitivity to drugs (Jones & Miller, 2008). Another study, also in 2008, showed results that suggest that BPA can affect long-term potentiation in the hippocampus, which can detrimentally affect memory and the formation of memories (Ogiue-Ikeda et al, 2008). The most common way to come into contact with BPA is through the use of plastic items in the household, wherein the chemical can leach out of the plastic containers under the stress of heat and be absorbed by food and drink items. Another way is by BPA being leached into animals who mistakenly eat plastic items, either in the sea or on terrestrial ground, and the BPA is then leached into their systems, to be passed on through the food web (Guo et al, 2017). Research on this concept is in the early stages, however, so the extent of this phenomenon is unknown. A 2010 study has also determined that there are traces of BPA in the air, and that the chemical can also enter organisms through respiration (Pingking & Kawamura, 2010).
The effects of climate change on BPA have been documented and have begun to find more scientific backing in recent years. A study from 2015 determined that the increased ocean temperature that will be seen as a result of climate change may have a detrimental effect on some fish species, and their study showed that an increase in temperature along with exposure to BPA negatively affected zebrafish’s swimming ability, heart rate and muscle activity (Little and Seebacher, 2015). They found that as the temperature increases the amount of effects seen in the species increases. The increased levels of BPA found in wild populations of animals may contribute towards species decline. The animals may struggle to adjust to the warming climate due to the effect BPA can have on both their endocrine systems and reproductive capabilities (Jenssen, 2006).
All of the effects described above are made more relevant when it is seen that BPA is leached out from plastic materials when it comes into contact with heat; 30 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced globally each year, and eight million tonnes of plastic is released into the ocean each year (Comanita et al., 2016), so a temperature rise could massively increase BPA levels. Multiple studies have determined that an increased exposure to heat, as well as increased temperature, results in the leaching of more BPA from plastics, which will in turn result in a greater concentration of BPA entering the ocean and atmosphere (Kang et al., 2003; Takao et al., 2002).
BPA has been shown to have a multitude of detrimental effects on both animals and humans, and the research is still in the early stages. BPA, in the quantity that it is being produced annually, will continue to be leached into our environment and thus end up in our bodies if action is not taken to reduce the amount of it in food and drink products, and the amount of plastic packaging that is being released into the environment. Climate change, especially an increase in temperature, will exacerbate these effects, with the chemical leaching increasing with the temperature. Research is limited on this phenomenon, and the exact figures that can be expected are unknown, but current literature is worrying enough to warrant further research. An investigation into the health implications of BPA and also the effects climate change may have on its quantity should be advised.
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