A study conducted by the National Primate Research Center at the University of California designed to look at how the common chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, affects the endocrine system of macaques has discovered that exposure led to changes in their lungs that increased the potential for developing asthma.
BPA is found in lots and lots of products in the marketplace, including can linings, plastic bottles, cash register receipts, and older plastic baby bottles. Many studies have found a link between BPA and effects on hormonal systems and fetal development but this is the first time the chemical has been associated with asthma. What makes it especially relevant is the way it mimicked human exposures and gestation. Fetal development of macaques mirrors that of humans, and the exposure levels were similar to those found in real life conditions.
"This is the first study to show a cellular and functional change in the lungs of animals exposed to BPA during the third trimester – a critical window of development," Van Winkle said.
Female macaques between 6 and 13 years of age were used in the study. After mating and conception, the macaques received an implant that gave them dosages of BPA to equal the level of BPA found in human blood, Van Winkle said.
"Our model faithfully replicates what is known for human exposure levels, and this is an environmentally relevant level," said Van Winkle. "Also, we did a constant exposure because human studies have shown people have nearly constant levels in their blood."
Who could have guessed? No one, because the effects of BPA on human lung cells was never studied BEFORE the chemical hit the marketplace. Just like the effect of BPA on human ovary cells wasn't studied, but as it turns out the same team found that exposure to BPA disrupted the development of the ovaries – a significant finding because ovarian development occurs prenatally and the number of eggs a female will have later in life is established at birth.
Increasingly, it appears that generations of kids are being born predisposed to asthma or other health problems based on exposure to chemicals. Those health effects are then exacerbated by constant exposure to chemicals. We're immersing ourselves in an environment that puts our bodies under poisonous assault from before we're born until the day we stop breathing. That's why the only model for chemical safety that makes sense is one based on discovering the health effects of products before we can by them at the grocery store.