BackgroundChemicals that have estrogenic activity (EA) can potentially cause adverse health effects in mammals including humans, sometimes at low doses in fetal through juvenile stages with effects detected in adults. Polycarbonate (PC) thermoplastic resins made from bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that has EA, are now often avoided in products used by babies. Other BPA-free thermoplastic resins, some hypothesized or advertised to be EA-free, are replacing PC resins used to make reusable hard and clear thermoplastic products such as baby bottles.
MethodsWe used two very sensitive and accurate in vitro assays (MCF-7 and BG1Luc human cell lines) to quantify the EA of chemicals leached into ethanol or water/saline extracts of fourteen unstressed or stressed (autoclaving, microwaving, UV radiation) thermoplastic resins. Estrogen receptor (ER)-dependent agonist responses were confirmed by their inhibition with the ER antagonist ICI 182,780.
ResultsOur data showed that some (4/14) unstressed and stressed BPA-free thermoplastic resins leached chemicals having significant levels of EA, including one polystyrene (PS), and three Tritan™ resins, the latter reportedly EA-free. Exposure to UV radiation in natural sunlight resulted in an increased release of EA from Tritan™ resins. Triphenyl-phosphate (TPP), an additive used to manufacture some thermoplastic resins such as Tritan™, exhibited EA in both MCF-7 and BG1Luc assays. Ten unstressed or stressed glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate (PETG), cyclic olefin polymer (COP) or copolymer (COC) thermoplastic resins did not release chemicals with detectable EA under any test condition.
ConclusionsThis hazard survey study assessed the release of chemicals exhibiting EA as detected by two sensitive, widely used and accepted, human cell line in vitro assays. Four PC replacement resins (Tritan™ and PS) released chemicals having EA. However, ten other PC-replacement resins did not leach chemicals having EA (EA-free-resins). These results indicate that PC-replacement plastic products could be made from EA-free resins (if appropriate EA-free additives are chosen) that maintain advantages of re-usable plastic items (price, weight, shatter resistance) without releasing chemicals having EA that potentially produce adverse health effects on current or future generations.