Bisphosphenol-A (BPA), the controversial chemical used in making plastics, may not just be something to worry about in baby bottles. High levels of BPA in men exposure may lead to low sperm counts, according to this first-of-its-kind study on the effects of the chemical on human sperm production.
Published online October 28, 2010, in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the study involved 130 Chinese factory employees who worked directly with materials containing BPA and 88 workers who didn't handle it (and whose exposure was similar to that of typical American men). After taking urine samples to check BPA concentration levels, it was noted that "compared with men without detectable urine BPA, those with detectable urine BPA had more than three times the risk of lowered sperm concentration and lower sperm vitality," says study lead author Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, California.
According to AOL Health coverage of the study, whether the relatively low sperm counts and other signs of poor semen quality translate to reduced fertility is not known. As Dr. Li notes, even men with extremely low sperm counts can father children.
Critics of the study point out that exposure to BPA in the US is minimal—and nowhere near the high levels some participants in this study experienced. Still, looking to give BPA the boot from your lives, especially as you gear up to have a baby? Try these tips from Environmental Working Group:
- Avoid canned food (liners may contain BPA)
- Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers
- Avoid hard, clear polycarbonate plastic (marked with recycling code #7)
What plastics are safe? Bottles and containers with the recycling labels #1, #2, and #4 on the bottom do not contain BPA.