Should I Be Afraid of BPA?

Intro 🎵 Maybe you’ve seen those “BPA-Free” stickers on plastic water bottles before. Having them labeled that way makes it seem like a dangerous chemical, but you can find BPA in all sorts of things. DVDs, shatter-resistant eyeglasses, baby bottles… It’s even in resin that lines some cans of food, and in thermal paper receipts that you get at the store. Most people have detectable levels of it in their urine, and that hasn’t caused the collapse of civilization, although 2016 may have come close. Anyway, how bad can BPA actually be? Even though there’s been a fair amount of research on BPA, we still don’t know if it’s completely safe. BPA is short for bisphenol A, and it’s one of the most common ingredients in a type of hard, clear plastic called polycarbonate. You can react it with another chemical, like carbonyl chloride, to form long chains, and those chains form a really durable plastic. Those chains are pretty chemically inactive, but the trouble comes when unreacted BPA molecules stick around in the plastic. When you heat it up, like by putting a plastic container in the microwave, those leftover molecules can become free. And that is what might be a problem. See, BPA is what’s known as an endocrine-disrupting chemical. It’s a molecule that interferes with how natural hormones, like estrogen, androgen, and thyroid hormones, work in the body. Animal studies have linked BPA to all sorts of problems, like decreased fertility, impaired fetal development, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. But, like with any health research, you can’t just translate those findings to humans. For one thing, laboratory conditions don’t mimic the way we interact with BPA very well, in terms of dosage or exposure. Plus, not all those research results have been reproducible. Lots of studies have found BPA is bad, but they don’t always agree on how or why. Right now, the US Food and Drug Administration sets the safe level for BPA exposure at half a microgram per kilogram of body weight per day. But some scientists are saying that limit is still too high. Because BPA is a hormone disruptor, it might act differently from other toxic substances. Usually, more of the bad stuff means more bad news for your body. A tiny bit of cyanide is okay, but a lot of cyanide is not. But chemicals that target the endocrine system have been known to break that rule. According to some research, a low dose of some chemicals might be worse than a high dose, because if the body suddenly detects a high dose, it knows something’s up and won’t respond. So while BPA isn’t definitely terrible for humans, it might not hurt if manufacturers phase it out, especially when it comes to things like baby bottles. As long as we study the new replacement plastics just as carefully. Thanks for asking, and thanks especially to all of our patrons on Patreon, who keep these answers coming. If you’d like to submit questions to be answered, or get some videos a few days early, go to Don’t forget to go to and subscribe. Outro 🎵

100 thoughts on “Should I Be Afraid of BPA?”

  1. yes you can
    humans are animals
    if rabbit get cancer human will probably also get cancer
    the important thing is the PROBABLY

  2. I was under the impression this didn't happen until the plastic went to a higher temperature than room temperature?
    Like at around boiling, then it released the chemical.
    For that reason I just generally never put hot liquids in any random low quality plastics.
    But also, I mean given this is a science show, why also didn't you show the different numbers on the bottom of the bottles letting you know which ones might have BPA?
    Well, it certainly is good to know that they don't know if it is bad, they just know it stays in the body.
    I certainly wish we could move to a superior product than plastics, but plastics are so amazingly useful atm, I will be eternally grateful.

  3. Could this possibly be the reason why we have more and more "deviants" every decade?
    Effeminate males, bi-curious females, asexuals, etc…

  4. This was related to a similar myth about drinking bottles, and that you shouldn't reuse them because the chemicals in the plastic leech out… I spent a good chunk of my university dissertation debunking that… but regardless, I think that as plastics become more "green", then these chemicals will reduce significantly anyway… nothing to worry about

  5. Poor form on the political joke SciShow – Don't try push your personal political agendas through on a science channel.

  6. 2:00 This is an explanation of hormesis. Whether hormesis is common or important is controversial. None of your sources show that hormesis is relevant in human exposure to BPA at environmentally common doses. Plenty search for it. None demonstrate it. Not a single one. You mislead your audience by suggesting otherwise.

  7. riiiiight US safe food set the limit… just like the Europe set the Nitrate limit in water. So it was at 20mg/liter in the 70's then rise it to 30 in the 80's and to 50mg/liter in the 90's and they think about raising it to 70 mg/l because the 50mg/liter is reached in some places BUT at no moment they acted on problems: is the nitrate source stopping or diminish? no. another DEEP con made by our politics with our money… be ready for the same..

  8. typical humans… "Oh my god, I just found out about this thing called BPA that has been existing for years without me knowing it…. Should I be afraid of it?", "Oh my god, this one magazine just mentioned Gluten and "bad" in the same article… should I be afraid of it?", "Jesus christ, bacon is carcinogenic? I better stop eating it because… you know… for hundreds of years people have been eating eat without problems… but now I'm a special snowflake and I should probably be afraid of it"
    I don't know, was then enough examples to prove my point?

  9. Use of BPA in baby bottles is banned/unauthorized in Canada, the E.U., and the US. Something not addressed in this video is that when hard plastics are labelled as 'BPA free' they often contain a chemical such as BPS instead, which has similar estrogenic effect.

  10. The thing is sure BPA is bad, but isn't the replacement material used in those applications, BPS, also not that great for you?

  11. This guy really knows about science.

    He has that highlight and ear piercing on both ears that tell you he's like a really cool Teaching Assistant in one of your science courses. (Hey, even your actual cool TA's has nothing on this guy!). That tells you that he does his own research and ACTUALLY knows about what he's talking about.

  12. This is why I try to avoid eating or drinking out of plastic. I still do it, I just avoid it when it's not too much effort to do so. I also try to use bpa free plastic when I can, but I saw a study once that said the sometimes what replaces bpa van be worse.

  13. Jeers to you for trying to link this video about BPA and 2016 election year together, GET OVER IT YOU LOSER. BPA showing up in peoples urine and 2016 had nothing to do with one another where is the science to back this garbage up sci-show, your comment was more like sci-BULLSHIT. I'd un-sub but believe I'll stay on just to call you all out on your rhetoric, that is until one of you block me. Stick to the science and leave the rest to be settled like the dust.

  14. Both according to EFSA and the FDA BPA is probably safe in the quantities it is consumed… so why do you end the clip by saying that "while BPA isn't definitely terrible for humans, it might not hurt if manufacturers phase it out"?

    It certainly seems like you couldn't keep out some of your own feelings about the subject when reviewing the evidence since you say "isn't definitely terrible" and implying that it is bad even though the science is leaning more toward that it's safe. I sure hope you do as you did with the GMO video and revisit the subject.

    P.S. Keep up the good work in teaching science to the public!

    Mattias Berglund


  15. Weather the chemical is harmful or not, after the bullshit from tobacco, alcohol, coal and other lobbies, research like this will always have a suspicious air to them.

  16. Hello Scihow! I have a question: How does scientists determine the chemical structure of a component if we can't see it? I mean, the graphical representation.

  17. I always appreciate these articles that tell you how things have been found to cause issues, but don't hard-line one way or another. I'd much rather know how things can and could be hazardous in these cases, versus how they could be safe. Thank you for your approach to this video.

  18. This video didn't mention the excessive amounts of BPA found in our oceans, due to sea waste slowly breaking down from sunlight over time. It's a topic definitely worth looking into!

  19. Avoid using plastics that come in contact with very hot foods such as plastic-coated plates in a microwave-oven, or any cup where if you place plain hot water in it, you can smell and taste the plastic.

  20. BPA causes cancer. Yet thermal paper is still the most common paper used for receipt printing nowadays. A 2011 study found that 94 percent of receipts tested contained BPA.
    We are working on a brand new app solution to this problem. Please help us by filling out this anonymous survey so we can get a healthier alternative to paper receipts in stores near you.

  21. I don't see the problem with it. I've been drinking bottled fizzy water for months, and my 3rd testical developed without any issues.

  22. bpa and other endocrine disruptors are exactly why males these days are a bunch of fucking pansys, and women are psychotic emotional bitches.

    just look at the 'men' that do the sci show reports all physically weak with small shoulders not very masculine anything. probably wearing skinny jeans and hipster boots.

    all of this chemical exposure has ruined society.

  23. “A poison kills you, a chemical like BPA reprograms your cells and ends up causing a disease in your grandchild that kills him”. Even if you won't digest it directly, you will via the fish/salt/water, as the oceans are full of it, so whenever you buy anzthing made of plastics, you are killing your loved ones. It can be recycled only up to 7 times, than dumped back into the oceans. Stop buying it completely.

  24. In the 1970s, were there studies linking Bisphenol A to autism in babies?

    A typical example is a baby drinking out of plastic bottles that had BPA in them and were already heated up. When you heat up BPA bottles, it is like releasing free radicals inside the bottle and this is what can lead to physical damage when you ingest stuff from heated BPA bottles.

    I think I was exposed to these bottles when I was drinking milk as a baby, and 3 to 4 years after I was born, I was diagnosed with autism!!!

  25. BPA Is Fine if You Ignore Most Studies for It.

  26. I saw a Naked Science documentary about the sun turning into a red giant and how the earth changes. Question # 1: Why would a cockroach come out during the day to be boiled by 212°F? Question #2: Explain how bottle water would survive those high temperatures? Those soda cans could not survive the CO2 pressure.

  27. it likely has adverse effects on children and adults but unborn children are at the greatest risk via exposure through their mothers.

  28. what about the super fidget? is it in that? it has a warning label when I got it online, but not in the game stop stores. Is it still harmful to play with?

  29. Im from New Zealand and I've been going to organic grocery stores my whole life. I visited the US and realized how feminine the guys were and short lol.

  30. What are they mean when they say a low dose could be worse than a high dose?
    Their wording confuses me. "Because if the body suddenly detects a high dose, it knows something is up and won't respond." So does this mean a response is a bad thing? The only way this makes sense to me, is that a low does would slip under the radar so our bodies would not be able to detect the hormone disruptor. Where as a higher does would be better because the body could detect it, and deal with the hormone disruptor accordingly.

  31. The problem is receipts. There's a million times more BPA coating a receipt, than could leach out of a plastic bottle. And because receipts are handled around food all the time, ridiculous amounts get dumped into our bodies. Next to receipts, plastic bottles are a non-issue.

  32. So you ask a question then ramble on about not knowing the answer? How about allowing free citizens to decide IF we want to take the risk of these chemicals remaining in our bodies and causing downstream harms? Inform us what's in these products, that residues likely remain in our bodies, and let US decide what we want to do.

    Seachrist, et al. , in their publication, "A Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Bisphenol A," reviewing the in vivo literature on BPA concluded, "BPA may be reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen in the breast and prostate due to its tumor promoting properties." And there are many other independent studies that do find significant concern on multiple target tissues from BPA. That over 93% of people sampled show BPA in urine samples ought to be very alarming in light of the serious implications.

    The latest FDA claims that BPA is safe should be looked at in the context of the history of big industry's successful lobbying of the FDA to make official statements that benefit businesses despite the actual wealth of scientific evidence. This is what happens when you have politicians making final policy decisions instead of the actual experts.


    Seachrist, D. D., Bonk, K. W., Ho, S. M., Prins, G. S., Soto, A. M., & Keri, R. A. (2015). A review of the carcinogenic potential of bisphenol A. Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.), 59, 167-82.

  33. BPA won't exactly kill you, but if you're a guy it will increase your estrogen levels, and will make you homosexual.

  34. 0:08 This guy is a clown and this is the right answer BPA = Cancer

  35. Idk how I feel about this. I’m sure bpa isn’t good I mean look at all the facts but the billions of water bottles that are used everyday what percent of those people drinking them actually get sick or get cancer?

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