Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: A potential health problem that can be solved
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Background: Chemicals having estrogenic activity (EA) reportedly cause many adverse health effects, especially at low (picomolar to nanomolar) doses in fetal and juvenile mammals. Objectives: We sought to determine whether commercially available plastic resins and products, including baby bottles and other products advertised as bisphenol A (BPA) free, release chemicals having EA. Methods: We used a roboticized MCF‑7 cell proliferation assay, which is very sensitive, accurate, and repeatable, to quantify the EA of chemicals leached into saline or ethanol extracts of many types of commercially available plastic materials, some exposed to common-use stresses (microwaving, ultraviolet radiation, and/or autoclaving). Results: Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled—independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source—leached chemicals having reliably detectable EA, including those advertised as BPA free. In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than did BPA-containing products. Conclusions: Many plastic products are mischaracterized as being EA free if extracted with only one solvent and not exposed to common-use stresses. However, we can identify existing compounds, or have developed, monomers, additives, or processing agents that have no detectable EA and have similar costs. Hence, our data suggest that EA-free plastic products exposed to common-use stresses and extracted by saline and ethanol solvents could be cost-effectively made on a commercial scale and thereby eliminate a potential health risk posed by most currently available plastic products that leach chemicals having EA into food products.